Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Constructor: Michael Sharp. Alias, Rex Parker

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: Rear-end COLLISIONS (64-A) — Four answers end in a synonym for blemish or mar (something that'd happen to a car in the event of said collision)

Word of the Day: SCRIMS (46-Down, Theater drops) —

    noun /skrim/ 
    scrims, plural

    1. Strong, coarse fabric, chiefly used for heavy-duty lining or upholstery
      • A piece of gauze cloth that appears opaque until lit from behind, used as a screen or backdrop
        • A similar heatproof cloth put over film or television lamps to diffuse the light
          • A thing that conceals or obscures something
        • • •
        Hi everyone! Caleb Madison here filling in for our eccentric crossword-critic hero who seems to have become somewhat of a recluse, forced to take a 8 year hiatus after being blamed for the murder of HARVEY DENT (18-Across, Gotham district attorney who becomes Batman's nemesis Two-Face). Oh wait that's that guy from yesterday... Weird spike in Batman-related answers since the release of "Dark Knight Rises" (which I've seen twice so far and it's my favorite one of the trilogy and I am obsessed with Bane's voice if you were wondering). Even previous Batman nemeses make brief appearances (24-D, WAG: Joker). Is Shortz a big Dark Knight nerd too?

        Theme answers:
        • [18-A, Gotham district attorney who becomes Batman's nemesis Two-Face] HARVEY DENT
        • [22-A, Central figure in a Clement C. Moore poem] SAINT NICK
        • [38-A, Barely legible handwriting] CHICKEN SCRATCH
        • [58-A, Having razzle-dazzle, to a Rat Packer] RING-A-DING. This is the only one I don't know. Didn't they also say BADA-BING? 
        • [64-A, Cause of some rear-end damage, as represented by the rear ends of 18-, 22-, 38- and 58-Across] COLLISIONS
        Some input from the Sharpman himself:

        Things I want to say. 

        I wrote this almost two years ago. It was accepted Jan. '11.

        I hate IMONA more than any of you possibly could.

        I assumed puzzle would be rejected on basis of HARVEYDENT (too comic nerdy?)

        Matt Jones ran a puzzle w/ identical theme (diff. answers) months after I submitted this to NYT. I wrote him immediately and told him. I even considered w/drawing the puzzle. But the theme answers were so different and most of the audience for the NYT would never have seen Matt's puzzle, so I just let it ride (again, figuring it would be rejected).

        He changed some clues, but fewer than he has in past. Nothing drastic. Obviously "TED" wasn't out two years ago, so that's his. So are a bunch of others. Whatever. It's OK. I consider it the last of my "First Wave" of puzzles. I.e. my next batch will be a step up. I still like this.

        I still like it too! It's a perfectly simple yet elegant Tuesday theme (and Tuesday themes are the semicolons of themes... amirite????). I wish the whole phrase REAR END COLLISIONS made an appearance instead of it being half in the clue, but... what can ya do? IMONA [17-A, "___ roll!"is, as Sharpie admits, not very pretty. Clue should have been "___ Boat" (SNL Digital Short starring T-Pain). I don't totally like INRED [63-A, "The Lady ___"] but it's more forgivable. Especially since the theme answers are partially stacked!

        • [16-A, Birthplace of Obama's father] KENYA — What a coincidence! I'm headed off the Africa (not Kenya... Seth Efrica) on Wednesday. J-Burg and Cape Town. Listening to a lot of Paul Simon to prepare.
        • [13-D, Pain relief brand] ANACIN — The first three versions of the drug ANACIN were really good, although it went under a different name then, DARTHVADER. Then they made three more versions chronicling the early years of the drug as ANACIN. They blew a lot of money. Sorry for this extended pun... for those of you who are confused:

        • [6-D, Hit 2012 film with a talking stuffed bear] TED — I'm a pretty big Seth MacFarlane fan from "Family Guy" so I was expecting a lot from "Ted". I liked it, but think he can and will do better in the future. I would have also been happy with a "Breaking Bad" clue. Maybe [What the T stands for in the "Breaking Bad" episode, "I.F.T."]. Fans rejoice.

        • [10-D, Early phonograph] VICTROLA — Cool word / answer. I am currently obsessed with this album:

        • [15-A, Uptight, informally] ANAL – yeah, sure. Uptight. Let's go with that. That's what it means. The image in everyone's heads when they write that answer will be... up...tight... 
        Signed, Caleb Madison, DOCENT [32-A, Museum guide] of CrossWorld


        Mike 1:57 AM  

        Nice easy Tuesday. SCRIM, DOCENT, and ELHI were mysteries to me, but I managed enough crosses that they weren't total WAGs (wild-a$$ guess, slightly different than most xword usages)

        jae 2:59 AM  

        Caleb, I had no idea that the Breaking Bad episodes had titles.  That said, I.F.T made perfect sense.

        So, hard to find much wrong with this one.  Apparently Michael practices what he preaches.  Very smooth grid with a little bit of zip..ANAL, RINGADING, VICTROLA... and a solid theme.  

        Medium-tough for me because of a  bunch of non-Tues. stuff...SERIF, COE, ANATOMIC, MOYER, CYTE, CESAR... all getable, but not rapidly.

        Plus, when I caught the theme I hadn't filled in the center and quickly put in CRunCH where CRATCH belonged.

         SCRIM/MOYER could be a problem cross.

        hollywood 3:30 AM  

        joker is the best villain in the history of cinema

        r.alphbunker 3:44 AM  

        One definition of collision is "An instance of one moving object or person striking violently against another." This brings to mind words like crumple, total, wreck, smashed, etc. The theme answers are the results of fender benders not collisions.

        Jeremy Mercer 6:25 AM  

        This is the first time I've done a Sharp puzzle as a Rex reader and I approached it the way I approach a friend's poetry ... really, really scared I won't like it. But, turns out it was a super Tuesday puzzle so none of that awkward half praise/gentle criticism. Good work.

        evil doug 7:44 AM  

        It's too soon....

        But I enjoyed the anal/rear end collision imagery.


        NS Blube 7:44 AM  

        Admittedly, IMONA roll got my right eyebrow twitching despite all the Rexlove in my heart. However, as I filled in the last square in the ITINA neighborhood, I looked back at the NE and saw I MONA. Made my day.

        Anonymous 7:46 AM  

        This is MS's 4th and (easily his) best IMO. I did not look for the name of the constructor until I was done and was actually surprised. I didn't think MS was capable of this kind of light-hearted fun puzzle. He is definitely on a roll with this one....


        Z 7:51 AM  

        Malapop at 3d, but COLLISIONS was too long and so had to be saved for later.

        I wondered at the baseball cluing of MOYER. He is not a big name, and the primary reason he is the oldest player in the game is that left handed pitchers are a relative rarity. If he were a righty he'd have been out of the game a decade ago. Any baseball cluing is more late-week appropriate in my opinion.

        Fresh fill with VICTROLA, CHURN OUT, TEMPT, SKY LIT, KNEAD, DOCENT all adding some sparkle. Didn't much like UNO again, nor HENRY I (does he usually appear with LEO II and OLAV IV in ACT III?). I've seen two apologies from Rex for 17A already, so the self-flagellation seems well underway.

        All in all an above average Tuesday.

        John V 7:53 AM  

        Fun puzzle, Michael and congrats! Just right for a Tuesday. Especially liked ANATOMIC and VICTROLA. Nice touch with CARCRASH crossing HarveyDENT.

        I, MONA: autobiography of Lisa Gherardini. Just sayin'

        Glimmerglass 8:01 AM  

        Good puzzle, Mr. Sharp -- not at all dull, but Tuesday easy. I liked the crossing of COMPADRE and RINGADING (this is, I assume) the original Rat Pack).

        Loren Muse Smith 8:09 AM  

        I’m with 2Jeremy Mercer – I sat down to solve this with much trepidation – what if I didn’t like it? And since I start with the fill- in- the- blanks, my first entry was I’M ON A ROLL. I thought, “Man, I know he hated doing that.”

        But like @jae said – he practices what he preaches! Terrific puzzle with lots of periphery flair: SAINT NICK sharing the grid with ELVES and the bonus CAR CRASH. And how elegant are those two crosses, COMPADRE/PAL and RINGADING/GLAM since their clues repeat words amigo and razzle dazzle, respectively?? So cool.

        Clomp, STOMP, tromp. . . I stupidly had I Lana for a while, and with the p off PINED, I wanted _ _ _ _ _up for WORSHIP.

        I didn’t finish because of Mr. Sebastian "Toe," theatrical "strips" and Jamie "Poyer," thinking vaguely that it would be pronounced to rhyme with (Charles) Boyer.

        Light, fun, tight Tuesday. Very well done.

        Milford 8:19 AM  

        Lovely puzzle, congrats Rex! A couple writeovers - had LegIT for LICIT and COINed for COINOP but otherwise very smooth to fill in.
        Favorite words: COE, CYTE (esp. as clued), ANATOMIC, and especially CHICKENSCRATCH. I actually hesitated to put it down, even though it came to me immediately, thinking maybe that was some word only my family used. So happy to see it is considered a *real* word!

        Sue McC 8:22 AM  

        I believe Sebastian COE is the chairman of the Olympics Committe in Britain, so his appearance is timely,as well as HARVEYDENT's. I wasn't blown away by the puzzle... There were more than a couple of times I thought the clues were unimaginitive, but also plenty of things to appreciate, as others have already pointed out.

        joho 8:41 AM  

        I agree that this is Rex's best to date. Also, I bet he's right in that what he doing now is even better that this two year old baby. Makes me look forward to what's next.

        Very easy but fun with an amusing theme, my favorite: CHICKENSCRATCH.

        Unfavorite: ELHI.

        Only glitch: SunLIT before SKYLIT.

        "I MONA, The Mystery Behind the Smile."

        Only a J, Q, X, Z short of a pangram! :)

        Funny write-up, Caleb!

        (Who knew you can die from eating too many lampreys!)

        jackj 8:43 AM  

        If the constructor had loosened up and let his sense of humor really take over, he would have been less ANAL about it and treated us to a pangram. Opportunity missed, Michael.

        At least we suffered no pain from another dreadful Tuesday puzzle; this one is a keeper, no doubt about it. The theme may not have been an earthshaking CARCRASH but as COLLISIONS go it was fun, especially for this solver whose signature has often been called a CHICKENSCRATCH.

        IMONA was a brilliant clue, harking back to Homer Simpson’s first dream encounter as a baby with his mother Mona, who famously said to him in that episode, “I MONA; You Homer” and a legend was launched.

        But my favorite was seeing VICTROLA for the first time in a Times puzzle with fond memories of the Victor Talking Machine Co. logo, “His Master’s Voice”, showing the dog Nipper, peering down the VICTROLA’s horn, ear cocked, absorbing the strange and wonderful sounds of this unique invention, likely hoping to hear the Beatles.

        Of course there are complaints with the puzzle, especially with the Rat Pack answer which, if memory serves, is missing the second DING and then a double “D’oh” for trying to upstage Mona with ITINA.

        Great fun, Michael and since you’re getting to be so good at it, please CHURNOUT another one soon!

        orangeblossomspecial 8:46 AM  

        5A was also a dance, as in "Sugar foot STOMP".

        I'll bet that many of the solvers are too young to remember 35D TIGE in Buster Brown commercials.

        60D Groucho performed "Lydia the tatooed lady".

        Evan 8:57 AM  

        Can't say too much because I have to run off, but I'm predicting that tomorrow's puzzle will feature either Two-Face, the Joker, Bane, the Penguin, or (fingers crossed) the Riddler in some way. Maybe this is a secret week of meta puzzles in which you have to save the solution to each to find the hostages that one of these villains kidnapped and the answer to 17-Across from Monday has to rescue them.

        Also, well done Caleb on including a Beach House video. A friend recommended them to me a few weeks ago. I really like Norway and 10 Mile Stereo.

        Enjoyed this 16x15 grid, Michael!

        dk 9:08 AM  

        "Be just vhat you is, not vhat you is not" as Mr. Wizard often said to Tutor (aka Tooter) the Turtle.

        Okay here is the slack: It is two years old.

        Here is what I think - An olio with oddly interesting theme fill.

        Rear End
        Dog Style

        No doubt it is just me. And, I will avoid all references to a certain sanctioned university and not add MUTE to the mix.

        Rex, A valent effort to bring life to Tuesday.

        🐤🐤 (2 Scratching Baby Chicks)

        quilter1 9:12 AM  

        Ditto what everyone said about the good cluing and fresh fill. I liked what everyone liked.
        I had a special appreciation for CAR CRASH. When I was working the hospital got a new ER director who forbade anyone to use the words car accident. He said car crashes were not accidents--someone somewhere had made a mistake. It didn't affect me much, but boy, was he strict about it with residents and nurses.

        Orange 9:14 AM  

        17a: ["___ Mexican, whoa-oh, radio..."]

        Bob Kerfuffle 9:15 AM  

        63 A, "The Lady ______", suggests so many possibilities. Letter count be damned, one could write a story:

        The Lady . . .
        . . . of Shalott
        . . . vanishes
        . . . in the Lake
        . . . and the Tramp
        . . . in Red
        . . . doth protest too much.

        (Trying to limber up the gray matter for Saturday's tournament!)

        GILL I. 9:18 AM  

        Add me to those that were going to call in sick if the puzzle turned out to be the usual Tuesday crud.
        Not so! loving so many crossings: CESAR/BARK AT - COMPADRE/PAL
        It did take me a while to "get" the theme. I shook my head at RINGADING since I thought that was Ernestine's phrase.
        Congratulation REX. Good, fun , enjoyable puzzle.

        Hate to complain, but ... 9:21 AM  

        The proper nouns annoyed me as they usually do. Especially in the SW corner. I have had this complaint about MS's puzzles before. Perhaps the proper nouns help avoid rotten fill, but for me at too great a price. Here's hoping MS's next round of puzzles rely less on proper noun fill.

        Loren Muse Smith 9:24 AM  

        @ Gill I.P. - Thanks for pointing out that canine cross! I missed it.

        @ Bob Kerfuffle -
        The Lady or the Tiger

        Carola 9:24 AM  

        I'll just say, "Please see above" for why I liked the puzzle and add that I love how Rex's NADIR of cluing has prompted the funniest comments on I, MONA.

        @Caleb, thanks for the fun write-up. Your recounting the troubled history of ANACIN really made me laugh.

        Anonymous 9:29 AM  

        I see the trio of autobiographies, I, MONA the autobiography of Lisa Gherardini, the well know I, TINA, but who the hell is the NRED in I, NRED? Is he some Laotian dude I never heard of?

        Norm 9:35 AM  

        Didn't notice the author until I finished. I paused and thought, humm, that was a nice little puzzle. Then saw his name and remembered he said he had a puzzle coming up. Thanks for a fun Tuesday morning, Rex.

        santafefran 9:49 AM  

        Thanks, Michael for a fun puzzle and Caleb for an entertaining write-up.

        Caleb, Bada-bing likely comes to mind from watching all those Sopranos episodes. Or did the Rat Pack use the term first???

        Azbert 9:52 AM  

        The parade of the sycophants.

        chefbea 9:57 AM  

        Great puzzle Rex. Loved remembering Buster Brown and his dog. Also Victrola.

        Got a good recipe for garlic bread where I don't have to work the dough!!!

        Anonymous 9:57 AM  

        Gondola: oar? what happened to "punt"?

        jesser 10:08 AM  

        Great puzzle! I'm stoked about meeting SantaFeFran and Tobias Duncan this Friday for a late lunch in Taos. I'll be driving my 1976 Ford Elite, which is 19 feet long. You could land a Cessna on the hood. It is jet black with So Much Chrome. The day after I bought it, my best friend was driving it and we had the radio (with working 8 track player!) tuned to an oldies station. The theme from Shaft (by ISAAC Hayes) came on, and Grant named the car Shaft.

        The theme saved me from a DNF at the TE_/HARVEY_ENT intersection. I don't know that I've ever loved parsing a word so elegant as VICTROLA. Ah, Nipper.

        And just last night I was catching up on True Blood and got to see a whole lot of GLAMouring going on, so 61D was cool.

        The purpose for the Taos run is the 50th anniversary of The Taos News, which I was privileged to edit from 1991-1995. We only used sans-SERIF type in the cutlines back then. Other past editors include Frank Waters and Edward Abbey. I'm in good company!

        jberg 10:13 AM  

        Really great fill, despite IMONA and the even worse FLUS. (C'mon, who says that?) The random Henry was saved by really great cluing, and there were a couple nice misdirections - am I the only one with ExplodE before ENLARGE for "blow up?" (And that even though I loved the movie.)

        Of course, when I saw 18A I thought it was another Batman theme, and that Rex's defense of the theme yesterday had been self interested - but not so! Nice work, Rex, and great commentary, Caleb!

        @azberg - believe me, there are many out there waiting their chance to pan Rex. We may hear from them yet.

        Z 10:44 AM  

        @azberg- @anon-jfc has been called many things by these commentators, but "sycophant" is a new one. Likewise, @ Evil Doug. If you have an actual critique or even just a nit, please share.

        Two Ponies 10:45 AM  

        Tuesdays, as we all know, can be tough to please. This one did OK with a few squeaks. I don't know if some of these were Rex or Will.
        Gondolas and oars? Poles I think.
        Collision seems too severe for a nick or a scratch.
        I remember ring-a-ding-ding.
        (Earnestine's line was one ringy dingy)
        Chicken scratch seems awkward.
        Chicken scratches or scratchings sounds more in the language.
        The clue for Moyer is so Rex.
        Congrats on another published puz.
        Thanks for sitting in Caleb.
        @ jesser, funny car story.

        syndy 10:53 AM  

        Yeah, it was okay

        mac 11:03 AM  

        Good Tuesday! And IMONA is completely validated by ITINA.

        Flus not so pretty, but many of the large answers are beautiful, as are all the related crossings. I enjoyed it, and the write-up too, @Caleb!

        Anonymous 11:11 AM  

        Actually, ANAL could fit the theme, too. Driver: "Officer, I was rear ended" Cop: "Were you in your car?"

        jae 11:22 AM  

        Speaking of Seb COE, I highly recommend the new BBC comedy series TwentyTwelve about the planning for the oylimpics. It stars Hugh Bonneville from Downton Abby and is funnier than the office (IMHO). If you have on-demand you should be able to catch up.

        Anonymous 11:58 AM  

        I just don't seem to have the gene that makes people mind partial phrases like IMONA. The whole phrase is well known and oft used, so what's the problem?

        Much more bugged by FLUS. I can't think of a single believable context where that would be used. Real junk.

        Problem with theme as noted above are correct: To an insurance company maybe incidents that cause such superficial damage are COLLISIONS, but iffy as normal usage.

        V. 12:09 PM  

        That was fun! So glad I didn't read the name of the constructor until after I finished. Easy but thoughtful and satisfying.

        Also, didn't mind "imona" because next to "ITina", it felt like a deliberate joke.

        Ginger Amelia Perry 12:54 PM  

        I like Jeremy's comment. But kind of agree with the sycophant comment. Not one negative to speak of in the bunch. I'm a huge Rex fan but unlike the rest of you, I found this puzzle challenging for a number of reasons. Could I really have been the ONLY one?
        For a Tuesday puzzle it was too difficult to be fun. Had to be said by someone.

        Campesite 1:05 PM  

        A fine puzzle, congrats Michael.
        I loved seeing Jamie Moyer's name. Jamie and his wonderful wife Karen run a highly regarded non-profit dedicated to serving the needs of children undergoing severe distress dealing with bereavement or other difficulties. Moyer Foundation


        Rex Parker 1:10 PM  

        Kneel before your master, sycophants! [insert evil laugh here]


        Anoa Bob 1:27 PM  

        My grandparents had free-roaming chickens on their farm and I would watch the mother hen go around scratching the ground to expose bugs and worms and all the little peepers would be hovering around and would dive in and gobble them up.

        So when I saw the clue for 38A "Barely legible handwriting", CHICKEN SCRATCHing came to mind. I've both heard the expression and used it myself. But it's always been SCRATCHing or SCRATCHes.

        A single SCRATCH would be just a more-or-less straight line. It's only when there are multiple SCRATCHes that the resultant cross-hatched pattern looks like "Barely legible" or illegible writing. Or maybe like Chinese writing to the uninitiated.

        efrex 1:39 PM  

        Well-played, although I didn't need to do any retro-solving (where figuring out the theme helps get some of the theme answers), which I generally enjoy.

        Much more annoyed by ELHI than IMONA (really would rather try to fit HEADSWILL in that space, but there's no way I could write my CHICKENSCRATCH that small).

        Fairly smooth Tuesday with some small speed bumps, but nothing too thorny.

        Well done, fearless leader!

        Bob Snead 1:42 PM  

        Very good puzzle, pretty disappointed that Rex couldn't just let people comment without doing some sandbagging -- seems pretty silly to me.I bet all constructors wish they had an opportunity to do that.

        Bird 1:49 PM  

        Nice write-up Caleb. Have a safe trip and enjoy Seth Efrica.

        I can’t believe Will accepted a puzzle from this guy. Who is Michael Sharp anyway? What a terrible puzzle - I’m sure Rex would agree. Lot’s of crosswordese and other poor fill. I was going to say this theme was done before, but Mr. Sharp submitted some kind of confession to the blog. Not sure I believe him.

        Is ELHI legit outside x-words? I had ELEM (yeah, I know the clue says 1st-12th grades), but WORSHIP and I TINA make more sense than WORSE IP and MT INA. I did not know PAL was Spanish for friend.

        I don’t consider ANAL to be synonymous with uptight - I think of ANAL as ultra-organized.

        For half an instant I thought we might get a pangram from Sharpie when I got to 33D (thought the answer might be ZOA).

        I certainly hope Mr. Sharp improves his constructing skills before we see another of his puzzles.


        Sparky 2:01 PM  

        Found it easy. Had something else before IMONA but now I can't remember what it was. Nice Rex, fairly clued. @Two Ponies made the points I planned re The Rat Pack and Ernestine. Good story @Jesser. Have fun in Taos.

        Saturday fun and pizza will be here before you know it.

        Fine write up Caleb.

        Sfingi 2:02 PM  

        The ones that were new to me were MOYER (that's old?) and HENRY I (poor guy).

        I'm Buster Brown.
        I live in a shoe.
        I'm his dog, Tige.
        Look for me in there, too.

        Of course, he was a cartoon, or as they clalm to say now, 'toon.

        It is pretty much determined that Moore did not write The Night before Christmas / A Visit from St. Micholas, but stole it from a dead man, Henry Livingston.

        I recently bumped someone in a parking lot. After leaving my info (abbrev.). I went into a nearby store and was surrounded by congrats (abbrev.) because I didn't drive away. The damage was determined to be $46. Would that be rubbing compound?

        I gave away a VICROLA. Turns out they're a dime a dozen. It's the replacement parts that are valuable.

        Sfingi 2:05 PM  


        claim Nicholas VICTROLA

        Anonymous 2:46 PM  

        @Z and @Azbert - I'm trying to reconcile disingenuous and sycophant. Once I've worked that out I will post a reply. FYI, at Wordplay I did post a comment on how Rex would critique this puzzle and it is different from my comment here (though my real comment there was similar to the one here). Since Rex has returned from NZ I've noticed a kinder and gentler Rex. Maybe my imagination or maybe the rest did him some good....


        JenCT 3:20 PM  

        @Anoa Bob: I love to watch my chickens scratch! However, I've heard the phrase CHICKEN SCRATCH (no "s") used lots of times, as in "Hope you can read my chicken scratch."

        To a couple of the comments, EEWWW. You know who you are.

        Liked the puzzle, agree that there were a lot of names, but the puzzle was easy until the SW corner, which took me quite a while. HENRY/COE/MOYER - can you say Natick?

        sanfranman59 3:27 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 9:06, 8:56, 1.02, 63%, Medium-Challenging

        Top 100 solvers

        Tue 5:08, 4:38, 1.11, 81%, Challenging

        jae 3:42 PM  

        @Ginger -- If you read my initial post you'll see I also found this kinda tough for a Tues. for several reasons. So, I'm on your side on this one. Be interesting to see what Sanfranman finds.

        @Azbert -- I think I resent being called a sycophant but your post was brilliant.

        jae 3:47 PM  

        @Ginger -- Apparently, while I was f**ing around proving I'm not a robot, Sanfranman posted. Although, part of the rating might be attributable to the 16x15 grid.

        4 and out!

        Loren Muse Smith 3:48 PM  

        The posts about us “sycophants” bothers me for two reasons:

        1. I’m being labeled a sycophant.

        2. The comments dismiss the well-deserved praise for a perfectly fine puzzle by chalking it up to just a bunch of sycophancy.

        I guess I’ve finally discovered what can really get my hackles up here - being accused of being a sycophant.

        I’m sycophit.

        joho 4:19 PM  

        @loren muse smith, it's really kind of a funny accusation because I think just about everybody here tells it like it is, some were even fearing they wouldn't like it and have to figure out something nice to say. So if what was posted was positve it's because that's how they felt.

        Major League Boot-licker 4:20 PM  

        Putative sycophant here. I can't state with certainty that I didn't subconsciously cut this puzzle a little slack because, if I did it was subconsciously and I wouldn't know about it.

        When solving I thought MOYER/COE was maybe a little bit too specific sports-wise, but they were gimmes to me, so how could I call them out?

        So, my question to those who called me a sycophant, what exactly did I do that makes you question my objectivity in liking this puzzle? None of you specified anything wrong with the puzzle. Where were the flaws we've overlooked? What was too hard for a Tuesday?

        Rex Parker 4:46 PM  

        What's important is that we can all disappointed about *something*.


        r.alphbunker 4:48 PM  

        @Two Ponies, Anonymous 11:58AM and I all commented on the fact that the word COLLISION is a bit strong to use to describe dings and scratches. We did it in a kind and understated way.

        Unfortunately, this is not the way that RP does things and perhaps many of us cannot detect criticism unless it is floating in a pool of snarkiness.

        Lewis 4:48 PM  

        Felt easy to me, maybe because I'm so familiar with Rex's thought processes from reading his blog for so long. He's in a tough spot as a constructor. Because of his blog he has to practice what he preaches when he makes a puzzle. And you can feel the pressure he feels to do so -- even in his IMONA comment today. But, on the other hand, hopefully what we will continue to get from him what we got today: A polished gem.

        Chief Nitpicker 4:51 PM  

        Puzzle faults . . .

        DOCENT crossing CYTE crossing EHUD.
        SANS SERIF is not a font. It is a variation of a font.
        Potential Natick at COE/SCRIMS (but C is the only logical choice).
        They don't use OARS on GONDOLAS.
        PAL is not Spanish for friend.
        MOYER may be tough for Tuesday.

        Anybody else care to chime in?

        Major League Boot-licker 5:01 PM  

        @Chief Nitpicker - You're right about CYTE. It should have been CIDE. It's ickier that way.

        I don't agree with most of your nits, some are flat-out wrong, but at least you're affirmatively saying what you found problematic about the puzzle, and just not calling others names without making your case. Good on you.

        Jeffrey 5:25 PM  

        The problem with the puzzle is that it isn't square. 16 is too wide for a Tuesday. Everyone knows that.

        Sandy K 5:49 PM  

        Sychophants, Shmicophants!
        The puzzle was a fun Tuesday solve for me- no apologies or explanations needed.

        Liked ANAL and CARCRASH crosssing.
        Another way of saying rear-end COLLISIONS?

        U CAN'T TOUCH THIS was CHURNEDOUT well too...

        evil doug 5:52 PM  

        Never been accused of being a sycophant here, so here's my response from the dark side:

        'Amigo' has evolved into common English slang, so 'pal' works.

        Jamie Moyer has been in the (sports) news a lot the last couple of years. If you don't know sports? Bone up. It's a huge part of the crossword universe.

        A variation of a font is a font to most of us. Don't over-think this stuff. Scientists and mathematicians here---'anal', as it were---seem to get wrapped around that axle a lot.

        The fairly easy crosses make 'I'm on a..." apparent without breathing hard.

        Never heard of 'elhi' until I did crosswords. But it's real common here. Now you know.

        On difficulty in general: I've never created a puzzle, but I presume that Will decides what day of the week a crossword is assigned. Constructors: Am I wrong? Anyway, if so then your toughness gripe isn't with Michael.

        And on sycophancy: I don't think Michael's had enough puzzles published lately to establish a pattern of people here lining up in blind allegiance to him. Seems to me that almost all of the folks in this community whose puzzles get picked up are treated somewhat graciously and given the benefit of the doubt here---kind of a neighborhood courtesy---and Michael no more or less than the rest. But sometimes you can tell by the lack of any comments from posters, or 'damning with faint praise' compared to their normal posts, that the reaction is lukewarm. The longer you participate here, the more you're able to decipher the tone of various regulars.

        And if you read the reaction to his daily commentary, it's patently clear that exceedingly few people cow-tow to him---and often let him have it with both barrels. I speak from experience....


        Anonymous 6:02 PM  

        Loren - I think being a Rex sycophant might be a notch below being a BEQ groupie so I understand your angst. In my case I think it's an elevation so I'm happy....


        GILL I. 6:12 PM  

        @joho: I don't think it was fear of not liking the puzzle so much. It was more of a "what do I do if this really sucks and I have to be polite to my host" moment. It's like being served this incredible dinner that you know took hours of preparation and thought, only to find out your allergic to every thing in it.
        In my mind, this didn't happen because the hors doeuvres tasted better.

        Unknown 8:24 PM  

        Wow, as always I'm proud to call myself your BFF! Great puzzle Rex!

        Ginger Amelia Perry 8:27 PM  

        God. You guys. We are not calling Rex a sycophant for God's sake. That doesn't even make sense. It's the suck ups who are loving the puzzle and finding it Tuesday easy. Not Rex. Jeeeeesh. PS no way it was Tuesday easy. PPS I liked the theme. PPS the unwitting references to Batman were unfortunate in timing.

        Loren Muse Smith 8:44 PM  

        @JFC - BEQ groupie? If I have to be someone's groupie, he's not a bad choice!

        @Ginger - I must have missed something. Who called Rex a sycophant?

        The SCRIMS/COE/MOYER crosses aside, I thought today's was Monday easy and even easier than yesterday's. And I usually have a harder time than most posters here.

        "Difficulty" is so subjective. . .

        JenCT 9:24 PM  

        @loren: LOL "I’m sycophit."

        @Ginger : Huh???

        Anonymous 9:26 PM  

        "Parade of sycophants"

        Strongly disagree with this comment. Kinda snide and snarky.

        "This was a difficult puzzle"

        Agree with @LMS "Difficulty is so subjective"

        Difficult for you, maybe. Easy for me.

        Anonymous 9:29 PM  

        @Loren - On July 22 you said:

        Thanks, @Z. I feel like I was being called a BEQ groupie.

        Women?! ....


        Z 9:29 PM  

        @lms - "sycophit!" Love it. Does this make me an LMS sycophant?

        Milford 10:03 PM  

        Just wondering what exactly I stand to gain by being a so-called sycophant? Some kind of magical point system kept by Rex based on our praises of him and his puzzles?
        Sigh. Some people liked this puzzle. Some thought it was easy. This happens every day. It's OK.

        Anonymous 10:09 PM  


        True words!

        Ginger Amelia perry 11:24 PM  

        Thought this was a bit true and funny. I loved Rex's response. But I got into trouble spinning off of it. O well. It will be forgotten by tomorrow.

        sanfranman59 1:50 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 6:28, 6:49, 0.95, 28%, Easy-Medium
        Tue 9:12, 8:57, 1.03, 64%, Medium-Challenging

        Top 100 solvers

        Mon 3:41, 3:41, 1.00, 54%, Medium
        Tue 4:59, 4:38, 1.08, 75%, Challenging

        Tita 9:31 AM  

        Liked the theme lots. Didn't like having it pointed out that dings and scratches are too mild for a full-out CARCRASH... Made it a tiny bit less fun.

        Hate FLUS,love CHICKENSCRATCH - my favorite answer.
        We too say "Hope you can read my chicken scratch". I find that the electronic signature pads in use at retail stores do a great job of converting my elegant signature into it.

        @Milford - well said!

        Spacecraft 2:27 PM  

        As a diehard Phillies fan, I latched onto the great Jamie MOYER right away. Like @Tita, I wondered about the severity of COLLISIONS vis-a-vis the DENT, NICK, SCRATCH and DING. CARCRASH? Well, maybe car-shopping cart crash.

        FLUS does not upset me; the strains from year to year are so distinct that last season's vaccine is probably worthless!

        VICTROLA and ANACIN in the same grid with MOYER--and yet a fan of rap and hiphop. Fearless Leader, you are one strange dude. And you, of all people, with cheater squares! They never did bother me, but even if they did, these would be excused for framing the piece de resistance of this grid.

        So when are you gonna CHURNOUT another one?

        DMGrandma 3:34 PM  

        Enjoyed the puzzle once I realized I had misread the 10D clue as "photographs". When the answer insisted on being VICTROLA, I went back, reread the clue and smiled. I have happy memories of being allowed to wind up my Grandmother's standing RCA Victor and gingerly place the needle on the disc, struggling to avoid scratches.

        Ended up with a Natick at the crossing of CYT? with ?HUD, but successfully guessed "e", so a no-write over day!

        Dirigonzo 4:25 PM  

        Shout out to my dogs, who are known collectively and affectionately as the "Brat Pack", at 58a although they are more "dingaling" the RINGADING (which I never heard before, btw).

        "Kept" (42d) was HeldONTO before UNO told me otherwise (EHUD was no help whatsoever; SCRIMS was new to me.

        IMONA, ITINA, IALIIFT (my captcha, really).

        Ginger 4:58 PM  

        I guess this was right in my wheelhouse, (rarely happens)because I breezed through it. COE was prominent in Eugene 'Track town USA', when I lived there. Remember many interviews of Tina Turna when her autobiography 'I TINA' came out. She wrote about being a victim of spousal abuse, and how hard it is to break away. Jamie MOYER pitched several years for the Mariners, so i knew him immediately. Seattle also gave up on him because they said he was 'too old'. I guess he showed them! About ANAL, I believe it stems from psychobabble 'anal-retentive' referring to early potty training of children. It has taken on a different meaning lately.

        I see another 'Ginger' in the real time commenters.

        I've missed this forum, had a fine vacation, but came home with a bug and a dead computor. @SIS while I was gone King Felix pitched a perfect game!! An even greater feat with a tieam that's languishing in the cellar.

        Daniel's Blog. How original of a title 1:53 AM  

        My thought exactly!

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