One-seat carriages / SAT 12-29-12 / Supporter of Heller decision / Bygone theory of astronomy / 1959 doo-wop classic / Idylls of King stylistically

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Constructor: Joe Krozel

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: ADIGE (36D: Verona's river) —
The Adige (ItalianAdige Italian pronunciation: [ˈaːdidʒe]VenetianÀdexeGermanEtschLadinAdescLatinAthesis) is a river with its source in the Alpine province of South Tyrol near the Italian border with Austria and Switzerland. At 410 kilometres (250 mi) in length, it is the second longest river in Italy, after the River Po with 652 kilometres (405 mi). (wikipedia)
• • •

Pretty typical Saturday puzzle. A little on the hard side, maybe, but not painfully so. My biggest problem, by far, was having JUST ONE SEC instead of WAIT ONE SEC (31D: "I'll be right with you"). As you can see, there's a lot of overlap there. I just couldn't get -JS (at 30A: Bugs) to work with any letter of the alphabet. Eventually I got the OFFICIAL part of ELECTED OFFICIAL, which got me WAIT, which got me VWS as the [Bugs] in question. Was not aware that REPULSER was a word (22A: Hideous one), so that took some patience. I thought maybe it was some strange word I'd never seen before, like, oh I don't know, REPUGNIK or something. But no, just a REPULSER. I like how he (or she) joins the crowd of SELF-PITIERS at 25D: "Woe is me!" types. If you weren't such REPULSERS, maybe you wouldn't be so miserable—you ever think of that, SELF-PITIERS!? I thought not.

Top and bottom parts were fairly easy. Most of the trouble came toward the center, for some reason. Would've helped if I'd had any idea how to spell LIECHTENSTEIN(ER) (42A: Alpine native). I did not want that first "E" to be there at all, so I kept coming up short, even after I had the answer figured out. A friend of mine actually predicted that "A TEENAGER IN LOVE" would be in this puzzle (true story), so I exclaimed triumphantly on his behalf when I figured that one out (41A: 1959 doo-wop classic). I taught "Idylls of the King" just over a month ago, so I knew the answer to 40A: "Idylls of the King," stylistically had to be ... what? I tried VICTORIAN POETRY. It fit! It was wrong! "VICTORIAN" describes period, not style. NARRATIVE POETRY is indisputably correct, though I'd say that's a genre designation, not a stylistic one. If you hate the answer ONE REED, I have info that may (may) make you hate it less (27D: Clarinet need). It's not (just) that a clarinet uses one, single reed (as opposed to an oboe, which is a double-reed instrument). It's also that reeds carry designations on a scale from one (soft) to five (hard). So a ONE REED is an actual thing. See here.

  • 1A: Urban contemporary (TRITT) — Keith Urban. Travis TRITT. 
  • 11A: Sports org. of 1967-76 (ABA) — They had red, white & blue balls. And Dr. J.
  • 17A: Bygone theory of astronomy (PTOLEMAIC SYSTEM) — Got "PTOLEM..." and then realized I didn't really know the phrase that would follow. Still had trouble even after getting all of PTOLEMAIC. 
  • 33A: "Ugly Betty" actress (VANESSA WILLIAMS) — I wanted America Ferrera or Amerigo Vespucci or whatever her name is (pretty sure it's the former, or something like it). 
  • 19D: Ones to whom an organization's messages are sent (SERVICE LIST) — did not know this term. Had the -LIST part and needed crosses to get the rest. 
  • 26D: Land visited by Paul in the New Testament (GALATIA) — I got this rather easily for one whose biblical knowledge sucks much more than it ought to. Didn't he write a letter to them there GALATIAns?
  • 49D: Supporter of the Heller decision, 2008: Abbr. (NRA) — looking up Heller decision now ... per wikipedia (and I Really should've known this): District of Columbia v. Heller554 U.S. 570 (2008), was a landmark case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that theSecond Amendment to the United States Constitution protects an individual's right to possess a firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home and within federal enclaves. The decision did not address the question of whether the Second Amendment extends beyond federal enclaves to the states, which was addressed later by McDonald v. Chicago (2010). It was the first Supreme Court case in United States history to decide whether the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense.
  • 34D: One-seat carriages (STANHOPES) — never heard of these, but this is a pretty elegant little word. It's surprising to me how many different types of carriages there were. Surreys and hansoms and bears, oh my. But given how much we obsess about and categorize and subdivide automobile types, I really shouldn't be surprised. 
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


North Beach 12:21 AM  

RP: Per your twitter: VANESSAWILLIAMS/CarolLEIBER(S). Interesting indeed. Though for a while I was furiously searching for STEINERs!

All beauty is reflective of symmetry 12:22 AM  

I found this one easier, and uglier, than did Rex. Then again, I have experience with easy and ugly, much more so than with beautiful and hard to get.

The additional info on ONEREED doesn't turn a pig's ear into silk purse. You know what else you need to play an oboe? Two lips. Eight fingers. Two fully functioning lungs.

Your REPULSERS/SELFPITIERS riff was a valient attempt to make these less heinous. You ever notice that all valient attempts result in failure?

North Beach 12:24 AM  


Twangster 12:26 AM  

Wow, I was at a complete standstill for 15 minutes until I finally got SELFPITIERS and was able to continue and eventually finish.

Thought the Alpine one was going to be a person (GERTRUDESTEINER??), and had SWIFT for TRITT almost until the end.

JFC 12:32 AM  

Nobody cares about the lack of symmetry or the 15x16, or the 5 stack, so I guess I don't care either. Nice puzzle Joe....


jae 12:38 AM  

In had a lot of the same problems/issues (REPULSER?) that Rex did including spelling LIECH... and JUST...

What made this tough for me was not seeing Urban as Keith. Once that dawned the formerly blank NW filled in seconds. I erased and rewrote (@joho reright) RITE at least twice.

I did know STANHOPE.

Possible tough crosses: ADIGE/LIECHTEN.. a couple of other vowels could seem right... and ISSEL/LIST although is hard to see what else would fit there.

I'm giving the cringy answers a pass for pulling off a five stack. Plus you have HORSEMANURE and SMARVELOUS, so nice tough Sat. Joe!

Anonymous 12:39 AM  

Rex, it doesn't seem like you mentioned the lack of symmetry, so I don't know if you don't care or just didn't notice it. I come out of posting retirement to say a pox on this puzzle. I didn't see the flaw until I was almost done. If you can't make a five stack without breaking the form, don't bother me with it.

Scott 12:49 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
syndy 12:52 AM  

I tapped out in that NE corner-completely! MY parts were BEadS so nothing doin up there at all!And a big ol' yup for trying to spell them yodelers. The whole middle section came in bits and pieces.the downs were not much help.I dont know carol and SECRECIES? it doesn't look better horizontal. but hey I loved me that bottom part! Thrusters!!and the "P" gave me STANHOPE for no reason I can imagine

JFC 1:40 AM  

@Anon at 12:39 a.m., I think it is safe to conclude that Rex knows all the strengths and flaws of this puzzle and chose to ignore all of the weird aspects. Don't ask me why. Just sign my petition to have his brain donated to science when he dies.

Karl 3:01 AM  

DNF. Oh, the humanity...

C. Ross Word 3:05 AM  

Quite a feat of construction despite the asymmetry. "Crosswordese" held to a minimum despite the impressive 5-stack! Nice job by Joe Krozel! Had trouble getting started thanks to LIONsdenS rather than LIONESSES. Finally shook out ISSEL from the depths, which opened the SW and ultimately the rest. Other missteps along the way sTilloftheNight for ATEENAGERINLOVE; NoRwegIanPOETRY for NARRATIVEPOETRY; as well as ei rather than IE in LIECHTENSTEINER and jusTONESEC instead of WAITONESEC as mentioned by Rex. A fun solve with many "aha" moments; never a BOER!

Anonymous 3:30 AM  


Adio China sMarvelous 3:34 AM  

wow, a five stack with just one outlier ADIGE!!!!!!

I thought this was tremendous.

Symmetry would have been impossible...

Word for word with @rex on jusTONESEC, REPUgnER,
spending time contemplating America Ferrara/Vespucci before remembering VANESSAWILLIAMS.

yin/CHI got me off to confusion despite wanting SCRAM from the GetGOS.
Same deal for ext/RES.
Most writeovers were for UNWounD, UNWireD before finally weaving together UNWOVEN.

And WIll will be pleased I considered SHORTZ for an answer to 15A "World powerhouse in table tennis...
thought JoeK was really kissing up!!!! (Or had submitted this as his entry for Will Shortz's 60th extravaganza...attention constructors, still time to submit your own tribute! Go to Crossword Fiend to do so!)

HORSEMANURE seems a little formal...but I liked it crossing HAY.

back in the day I thought JoeK too stunty, but then started admiring how he always pushed the envelope...and today I'm finally stunned...and I don't mean MAYBE!
Bravo! SUCCESS!!!

r.alphbunker 5:08 AM  

Wanted GALATeA and ADIGo but LIECHTEN... won.

The lack of symmetry does not bother me if the puzzle wows me like this one does. There was an amazing asymmetric Caleb Madison published recently by Ben Tausig.

Anonymous 5:20 AM  

I hated this puzzle. The five stack, the lack of symmetry, the completely arbitrary placement of the black squares, and the super questionable answers like REPULSER and (ugh) SERVICELIST made this an absolute chore.

Qvart 5:37 AM  

Saw the five stack and thought "uh oh!" but I blew through this one pretty quickly. Maybe because I knew how to spell LIECTHENSTEIN(ER).

Late for work!


Qvart 5:39 AM  

Oops, just misspelled it above. That's what I get for doing the puzzle and commenting instead of getting ready for work on time.


Anonymous 6:18 AM  

"A Teenager In Love" was post Doo-Wop

GILL I. 6:58 AM  

LIEFERS who? VIREO what? ADIGE where? GALATIA when? REPULSER why?
Not to mention trying to fit Liederhosen in LIECHTER's space. Twasn't so SMARVELOUS for me but I was incredibly proud for getting PTOLEMAICSYSTEM off the PT.... I finally finished after calling on Google for VANESSA ( I too wanted America something or other).
Really liked seeing STANHOPE crossing HORSEMANURE although my father used to say HORSE(pucky)
It's good to be back - I missed the @Rex blog and friends....

Danp 7:35 AM  

Lots of write-overs for me. At least Rex had Justonesec. I had HANGONASEC, even though the first answer I got was Issel (which I changed to Issal).

I thought the word of the day should be either Virio or stanhope, though I never heard of the Adige River, or Ric-a-che. Must say, I liked the clue "bird herd". Any time a plural gets disguised is alright with me.

Ruth 8:03 AM  

always irksome when I get fooled by a new clue for epee. . .

chefbea 8:55 AM  

Tough for me. Googled a lot and DNF

We use to stay at the Stanhope Hotel in Manhattan. Was on Madison Ave. Think it closed years ago.

Michael Hanko 9:03 AM  

I understand @Rex's reticence to mention the remarkable features of this groundbreaking puzzle. After all, one way to look at things is to say that a puzzle must ultimately be judged on its merits, not on its attempts to forge new ground.

But isn't it just another form of grandstanding to so perversely omit to mention the obvious? What would you think if an Olympic skater attempted a sextuple spin move in competition and fell — and the announcer just bemoaned the low standard of excellence in her routine without mentioning that she's just tried to land a sextuple Axel?

Does chutzpah count for nothing at all? (Other than 27 points in Scrabble.)

I thought there was something thrilling to this puzzle, despite its flaws and idiosyncrasies. I enjoyed approaching it, trembling a bit before its majestic and weird grid, wondering what liberties Mr. Krozel had had to take to fill it in. Not as many as I'd've expected, as it turned out. The only really egregious thing to me was being expected to know the name LEIFER, plural or not. I kept trying vainly to shove BURNETTS in there, wondering if all these years I'd been imagining that second T. (As it turned out, I needed the extra letter in what I was sure, like many others here, was LICHTENSTEINER.)

And, as a former orchestral clarinetist, I enjoyed ONEREED, but only in the sense that a clarinet has only a single reed as opposed to, say, a bassoon. It's a defining feature of the instrument. But I never heard anybody refer to a "one reed." It's a "number one reed."

OK, now it's up to other constructors to take the baton from Mr. Krozel and run with it. Who will be the one to improve upon his 5-stack debut? This challenge? S'marvelous.

joho 9:13 AM  

I panicked at first sight of the 5 15's in the middle and the 16th across the top, thought, "OMG!" Plus a Joe Krozel to boot.

That's why I can't believe I finished the whole thing!

Wrote in SwondErfUl before SMARVELOUS ... what could be more fun than that other than getting to write in HORSEMANURE? (@Adio China sMarvelous ... and SHOD is at the bottom of that section.)

@jae, glad you remember "reright." I had three yesterday with HRH!

I loved this puzzle ... thank you, Joe Krozel!

Dave 9:21 AM  

Congrats Joe. Don't worry about the haters. Haters gonna hate! Pox on the self appointed fill police

Anonymous 9:23 AM  

Not sure what this says about me, but I had VdS for "Bugs."

Unknown 9:34 AM  

Looked at it and said "Whoa...", given pause by both the lack of symmetry and the 5-stack. But it was doable -YAY! A challenge, for sure. Still wondering how my brain knew STANHOPE off of OPE.

What are the symmetry rules? Does a puzzle have to have some other BIG WOW feature to get away without being symmetrical?

Anonymous 9:34 AM  

I should add that DOITINASEC seemed plausible.

Jeffrey 9:42 AM  

If @Rex reviewed other stuff like he reviewed today's puzzle:

Man Landing on the Moon: Two guys found a parking spot and went for a walk

Titanic Sinking: It appears some passengers will be delayed from their expected New York arrival

Bell invents the telephone: Guy spills stuff, requests aid from assistant

Merle 9:51 AM  

Very challenging, interesting puzzle. I got really stuck when I answered "alpine native" with "edelweiss flower". Seemed obvious to me. Especially when I crossed it with 33 Down, "easily corrupted", and answered "naive". How naive of me. Answer was venal -- someone venal is easily corrupted by greed -- someone naive is easily corrupted because of ignorance. So I really had nowhere to go!

A frustrating but entertaining Saturday. Now, because I am so 20th century and tied to print, and because I have a print subscription to the NYTimes, I will move on to the Sunday puzzle. Parts of the Sunday paper, the pre-printed parts, such as the Magazine section, are delivered with the Saturday paper. And of course the Sunday puzzle is usually very easy, so it will be a bit of a romp in the park after slogging through a Saturday puzzle.

imsdave 9:57 AM  

'S Wonderful puzzle. Quite smooth given the complexity of the five stack and a nice degree of difficulty.

Thanks Mr. Krozel.

joho 9:59 AM  

@Jeffery ... your comment is absolutely SMARVELOUS! Love when you stop by.

Sir Hillary 10:01 AM  

Woo hoo, a five-stacker. Nice stack, least reading across. Oh wait, there are downs too? Hmmm...ONEREED, LEIFERS, SECRECIES? Fair enough, cost of doing business, I suppose. What's this, asymmetry and 16 rows? OK, business is now unprofitable.

Some innovations aren't worth their own compromises. While this is an impressive feat of construction just to make it all work, to me it is still the definition of stunt-puzzledom. If that makes me a "hater" or a self-appointed whatever, so be it.

WA 10:11 AM  

It thought the 5 stack was impressive and when was the last time or when will the next time you will have LIECHTENSTEINER. When I mentioned the clue Alpine native to my wife was close when she said lichen, but who ever heard of a lichensteiner?

I did like above Gertrudesteiner.

JC66 10:18 AM  

It doesn't matter to me that it's 15X16 & asymmetrical, this was a crunchy, enjoyable Saturday puzzle.

Lindsay 10:21 AM  

Hmmmm. I'll stay out of the symmetry v. non-symmetry and oodles of white v. non-oodles arguments.

Pleased to get 17A off "ICSY" but misspelled PTOLEMAIC. Also, my Word of Logic was NOt, leaving me to wonder what an AtM deal might be. Found & fixed. Fell headlong into the jusT ONE SEC trap.

Fortunately, I latched on to EPEE, which gave me STANHOPE and a ladder up to the middle. Don't know much about pop culture, but do know a little material culture, as the history jargonists would say.

Milford 10:24 AM  

Really great workout, had to google to finish (ISSEL). The grid scared the bejeezus out of me, but luckily there were toeholds to grab.

Also thought there would be more asymmetry discussion here, but maybe I was supposed to know that this type of feat couldn't have a traditional layout?

Love the Gershwin entry - I wonder if this puzzle could have existed with out ’S MARVELOUS?

lawprof 10:40 AM  

I always have to take a deep breath before tackling a Saturday. Today I took two when I saw this intimidating grid.

Got very little on my first pass except CHINA and ISSEL. I was absolutely certain that Ugly Betty was America something, so I threw in the actress's first name with some confidence. (I was vaguely aware that the last name was something like Ferrara, which didn't fit. Maybe it was Ferrarra? Feirrara? Ferreira? I'll fix it later).

Never quite ground to a complete halt, but the going was really slow until I stopped fighting the thing and gave up on America (hope that's not taken out of context), got WILLIAMS, which gave me VANESSA, thus completing the top part of the five-stack. That in turn opened up the entire middle and the rest fell pretty quickly after that.

Another satisfying Saturday; a doable challenge by Joe Krozel.

ArtO 10:42 AM  

'Swonderful at first but 'smarvelous both describe this terribly impressive five-stacker that was way beyond my capacity to finish. Just getting most was a Saturday triumph for me.
Joe, you never cease to amaze!

jackj 10:52 AM  

Quintuple stack?!

Crossword history is made by Joe Krozel and the Boo Birds are out in full force complaining about it, but for my money it’s a coup de crossword and attention must be paid and praise must be made.

With so much ordinariness seeming to be seeping in to puzzle grids these days as themes repeat (and repeat) and perfectly good words are used so often that they develop a haze of revulsion, Joe has pointed the way to one solution that could help bring imaginative liveliness back to our beloved crosswords, Asymmetric grids.

Hopefully those who control the publication of quality crosswords will heed the alert and begin to test the idea, even if only as a “Second Sunday” type concept for starters.

In today’s solving challenge, those who have become comfortably smug by relying on the three-letter crossings attendant with triple-stacks, must have looked with horror at the lack of any such help with this quintuple monster.

But, the sense of satisfaction after completing the answer LIECHTENSTEINER probably helped many celebrate a well deserved “stand-up-take-a-bow-and-holler-bravo” moment, if only in their imaginations.

There are too many incredible clues and answers to list, even as a SERVICELIST, but Joe’s clever inclusion of some tasty three-letter bits, GOS, NEE, VWS for example, raised the puzzle’s spicing from a simple curry powder to an elegant, piquant garam masala. (Though HORSEMANURE did bring its own sense of pungency to the feast).

A puzzle that launched a crossword renaissance by eliminating the feeling that asymmetry is a dirty word? We can hope.

Thanks to Joe for the puzzle and Will for publishing it.

Ω 10:53 AM  

This is a fine example of the Conservation of Greatness Principle.
The Obscure:

The dated and therefore obscure:

The ugly short fill:

The -ers

The 15x16 and asymmetry.

There is a lot of greatness in this puzzle (I love "Thrust item") - but Greatness has been conserved.

Louis Proyect 11:02 AM  

I actually am familiar with Travis Tritt but the clue was so perversely obscure that this was of no help to me even after I filled it in by solving the words around it. What is a tritt, I wondered. A slang word for city dweller? I gave up...

Evan 11:05 AM  

I kept wondering what was up with the asymmetry. It's not like it's theoretically impossible to run a quint-stack down the middle in a 15x15. But my guess is that Joe Krozel tried a 15x15 and the results were a little too iffy for submission. Aside from SMARVELOUS, HORSE MANURE, and WAIT ONE SEC, I can't say that any individual answer really wowed me, and LEIFERS doesn't look so good to me, but the puzzle was still enjoyable either way.

Hope everyone is enjoying their holidays.

Carola 11:06 AM  

There was a moment when I almost fell into the ranks of SELF-PITIERS ("Too hard! Wah!"), but I SET AT it again and eventually the SECRECIES of the 15s were revealed.

For a while that center section had only the last two letters, from S'MARVELOUS and SLYER. Then GALATIA (thanks to childhood Bible style) next to ONE REED gave me the IE for LIECHTENSTEINER, that L got me to VENAL, and then it was easy to see the ELECTED OFFICIAL and NARRATIVE POETRY and the rest.

Very apt that TO ERR crossed PTOLEMAIC, as I needed three tries to get the vowels right.

I was hoping there might be some more discussion about the asymmetrical grid. Not clear to me what it might be about a puzzle's content that makes asymmetry "okay."

@Rex - Thanks for explaining ONE REED and TRITT.

Thanks, Joe Krozel - a really nice Saturday workout.

Sandy K 11:07 AM  

Much like @joho, at first glance, did not think I would have any SUCCESS with this Joe Krozel Puz.

But, in GENERAL, it was gettable. Had to WAIT more than ONE SEC to work out ISSEL, ADIGE, and LIECHTENSTEINERS- like @Rex that first E was tricky.

Urban contemporary for Tritt and Bugs for VWS were SLY faves were A TEENAGER IN LOVE and 'S MARVELOUS!

Bob Kerfuffle 11:07 AM  

Fabulous puzzle! I loved it!

And LOL at Rex's wonderful write-up, leaving his faithful followers to fill in for themselves all the negatives they expected to find there.

And it was great to be able to finish this ground-breaking puzzle correctly, with all of my write-overs held to one answer, the slippery 31 D: HANG ON A SEC, HOLD ON A SEC, before WAIT ONE SEC.

Any musicians run the gamut before coming up with BEERS at 21 A (Round parts)?

lawprof 11:30 AM  

The asymmetry of today's puzzle didn't trouble me. Symmetry in my view is simply a "convention" that gives the grid a certain elegance and provides aesthetic appeal.

Unlike the true "rules" of crossword construction (e.g., abbreviated clues yield abbreviated answers) departures from conventions do not affect the essential fairness of the puzzle. If, on the other hand, the constructor had clued, say, "nina" as "baby" rather than "baby in Barcelona," we'd all have cause to howl. All we can say about this asymmetrical grid is that it's like Ugly Betty -- not exactly pretty on the outside, but beautiful on the inside.

lymank 11:36 AM  

I don't remember ever seeing a stack of FIVE 15's. That's astonishing!
Who cares if there's some assymetry??

RMK 11:47 AM  

Actually it takes nine fingers to play an oboe...

Another vote for " number one reed"

JFC 11:54 AM  

Pretty typical Saturday puzzle. A little on the hard side, maybe, but not painfully so....

Noam D. Elkies 11:58 AM  

Congratulations on the first 5x15 !! Yes, some obscure and/or borderline stuff, but on a Saturday grid we expect such compromises. The asymmetry [not "ass-ymetry" ;-)], *that* I don't even consider a compromise, because grid symmetry is overrated to begin with.

Coincidentally 2012 ends with the breaking of another NYTimes barrier: 50A:HORSESH*T today, and "full of sh*t" hidden in Paul Krugman's Op-Ed yesterday. Even Thursday's French 10A:KISS was a mild shock in this venue.

A few false trails that haven't been mentioned yet: YIN for 7D:CHI (as in the chi-rho monogram, first two letters of Χριστός = Christos); PLENIPOTENTIARY off the 2nd and 3rd letters of 39A:ELECTED_OFFICIAL; UNWOUND for 23D:UNWOVEN.


jberg 12:00 PM  

DNF--couldn't think of ABA, so I guessed AFL, which didn't work at all - couldn't think of ARMS deal, either. So I had all the 15s, it was those 3s and 5s up in the NE corner that killed me.

As for symmetry, I guess I didn't really care.

Way too late in the day to say any more!

Rob C 12:17 PM  

As I was doing the puzz, I would have bet Rex and many of the posters would have completely panned this one. Egocentric constructor stunt, some ugly fill and asymetric to make it work...we all know the complaints. But no. Lots of appreciation (unstated by Rex) for the 5x15 stacks. @Jeffrey has the funniest post in a while. (If there are going to be awards for the best posts of the year, I nominate his.)

Rex even went out of his way to explain why ONE REED isn't as ugly as it seems-this could take some getting used to.

DNF b/c of the NW corner of all places. Nice (too nice for me) redirects with Urban and Tube and apparently I know less than I should about olive-colored birds.

Tita 12:19 PM  

I love this haphazard grid!

Not Pope Urban? Oops.

Had to Google some of those REPULSive proper names.

Had to read here that 5x15 was something special.

Congrats, Mr. Krozel.

Anonymous 12:55 PM  

Why Pixies-Debaser? Can someone please explain. Thanks.

Anonymous 12:55 PM  

Not being constuction-savvy, I learned from the comments here that the 5x15 stacks were a monumental achievement.

Why didn't Rex mention it? In that case @ Jeffrey's comment was spot on!!

Seemed like Rex was more concerned with working his ONE REED= Lou REED into his blog today...???

Lewis 12:55 PM  

@excellent writeup, Rex, with good info and it was funny. You were in a good mood.

@lawprof -- excellent post. Actually lots of excellent posts today.

@Z and JACKJ -- I always enjoy reading your posts. And @ACME, I love your insight and spirit.

More posts than usual for this time on Saturday. Must be the holidays.

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

Is @Rex kidding when he says "Pretty typical Saturday puzzle." ?

wordie 1:08 PM  

Loved the puzzle! Noticed the random, asymmetrical layout and thought, whoa! I second the idea that Jeffery's post is the best ever. Now, a couple nits. The clue for Mae West should have read risquée, the feminine form, with a second E. And regarding the Great Reed Controversy,

Anonymous 1:13 PM  

100 percent agreed.

Masked and Anonymo4Us 2:05 PM  

Rumor has it that Joe had the 5-stack of U-less 15's sewed up in a nice, regular symmetric 15x15 grid. But the lure of fitting in HORSEMANURE, with its steaming, sparkly U, was just too enticin'. Ripped the whole thing up, and made the fertilizer stick, so to speak. Not unlike how Congress approaches things, by golly.

I'm themeless thUmbsUp all over this. Really fun, funky, different solving workout. Put up a fight, but eventually reached the promised land of HORSEMANURE. Memories along the way include:
1. [Bugs] = VWS. Fave puz clue.
2. VIREO and ADIGE. Actually, the second one looks more like a doggie. But both of 'em just magically appeared, as we did the crossers. Just sorta gawked at 'em, like a pile-up on the road, as we drove past.
3. ONEREED. Was deeply touched by 31's masterly defense of this entry. @31: I recently saw GIANTHAND as a long down in a puz. Clue was [Subject of the final shot in "The Cabin in the Woods"]. Defensible? Watched the flick last night. Good, funny schlock. See what they mean, about the ending. But I digress.
4. ATEENAGERINLOVE, as Anonymous dude pointed out, is all teener ballad. Not so much doowoppy. But Dion and the Belmonts definitely did a lot of doowop, in their early days. TELLMEWHY was primo doowop. But I digress.
5. Not every day you get more black boxes on the bottom line than white. Sorta like the HORSEMANURE barrier is springin' a leak. But I disgust. ( "Repulser", auf French.)

Anonymous 2:11 PM  


Enjoy all Ur comments!

Think U mean "I Wonder Why" by Dion and the Belmonts- a personal favoriteof mine as well.

Ulrich 2:23 PM  

OK--I agree symmetry is overrated and a 5x15 stack is awesome. But that horizontal bar in the SE corner strikes me as ugly--it's not so much the 2 cheater squares, but it occupies so much space that the 15x16 grid looks stunted--it's really turned into a 15x15 1/2 grid.

What I get out of this puzzle is a challenge: We now know some dare-devil of a constructor has done a 5x15 stack, albeit not in a 15x15 or clean 15x16 grid, and not with any symmetry. Try to do a 5x15 stack that doesn't need at least one of these "compromises".

John V 2:24 PM  

Extraordinarily difficult. Finished (whew) with mistake as LIECHSTENSETINER/SECRECIES crossing because I had so many erasures that I could not see what the heck I was doing.

Why as this hard? The quint stack bounded by VANESSAWILLIAMS and LIECHTENSETINER made it hard for me, not knowing Ugly Betty or how to spell the country. I didn't find the asymmetry difficult, as there were enough three letter words on the top and bottom to mitigate that

Looked at the grid and thought a)stacked 15s so should be easy and b)FIVE 15, meaning crossing with 5s, so not easy. Not easy. I quite literally spent two hours.

Amazing construction feat from the master. Solving experience, not so much. VERY hard.

John V 2:25 PM  

Forgive typos above. Too tired to redo.

mac 2:58 PM  

Nice Saturday puzzle. Got stuck in the NW mainly because of the bird.

Word of the day: repugnik.

MetaRex 3:04 PM  

Some good traps here...I went for PTOLEMAIC CYCLES and CALL CENTERS instead of PTOLEMAIC SYSTEM and SERVICE LIST. I also wanted something like LIEDERHOSEN WEARXX for Alpine inhabitant. A TEENAGER IN LOVE was very gettable, though, and my mess didn't take all that long to fix.

Dunno about rapper RIC-a-Che. I guess we're in the high noon of an "old solvers will accept any rapper because they don't even know DRE, and hepper younger solvers who do know DRE will accept not knowing a dimmer hip-hop luminary" era.

Ptolemaic cycles

Acme 3:16 PM  

For those who are all ?!?? About LEIFERS, she is a very funny comedienne who never became as famous as some of her contemporaries but is Jerry Seinfeld's close friend whom the character Elaine is based on (not Elayne Boosler, despite the first name thing...or who knows, perhaps a conflation or not to Ms B). Back in the 80s when I did standup, Carol LEIFER and Rita Rudner were among the top female standups, perhaps she is on Youtube now, it's a shame that wasn't around back in the day to capture some of our performances...
I've started again, doing some stories in small venues, just to have a chance to have some on film...tape, digitalized...whatever you call it now! Iphoned?

Also @Z I get your lists but I wouldn't include LEIFERS as one of the ER words you're talking about.

Thanks! Made my day

@ nde
We think alike and I brought up the same ones you unwounds me that you skipped my comments today! ;)

Said it before and will say it again, you remain

M and Anyhoo 3:18 PM  

@Anonymous 211: Yep. Old "right as often per day as a stopped watch" M&A stands corrected. TELLMEWHY was by Norman Fox and the Rob Roys, and was also top o the line tunage. IWONDERWHY was reeeeally great stuff, anyhoo. Probably Dion's doowop high acme point.


Acme 3:22 PM  

Sorry! Got cut off mid remain my favorite commenter bar none!
If I had time for more than one blog, i'd even follow you on crossword fiend where rumor has it you blog every week!

Rob C 3:40 PM  

@acme - In addition to her stand-up career, Carol LEIFER has some impressive writing credentials on her bio. Check out

In one episode of Seinfeld, George tells a date about the virtues of the word MANURE (was expecting a recap of this scene from Evil Doug today). Maybe written by her? Perhaps a tie in of the two answers?

Ω 3:45 PM  

@ACME - re: LEIFERS - I almost didn't, it would be the answer to the "One of These Things is Not Like the Others" song from Sesame Street. But JK went and pluralized it, which made it eligible in my mind.

My other thought was to clue it as "Eriksson's mom and dad." You know, LEIFERS.

Sparky 4:07 PM  

When I first saw the grid I was so stunned by the 5 stack that I didn't even see the asymmetry till later. Almost finished but left the W out of VWS.

Popped America in as first entry. Later saw she didn't work with LIONESS and SLYER. Really like VANESSA WILLIAMS. Saw her in Into The Woods.

Figured Urban as singer early on but couldn't think of TRITT. Trait? Truet? Something. Wanted a yodeller or edelweiss for Alpine native. Neat clue for EPEE but don't you thrust in all fencing?
Thrust, parry, thrust. Two dozen roses for the widow.

Interesting comments. I prefer a symetrical grid. Anyway, a good workout but gettable.

Qvart 4:19 PM  

@ Rob C: "In one episode of Seinfeld, George tells a date about the virtues of the word MANURE."

That was my first thought too - Ma-newer. Hehe.

I rushed through commenting this morning so to give a little more detail -

Who cares about symmetry? Not me. And honestly I rank this one "medium." Too many short answers were easy (although not necessarily gimmes). If the answers I didn't know weren't crossed by so many I did know that filled them in then I would have been stumped more.


I got enough of these that the longer answers weren't too difficult to figure out. Remember, the answers aren't necessarily difficult - just the clues. Even if I didn't know certain answers it's not like they were completely unfamiliar: VANESSA WILLIAMS, ELECTED OFFICIAL, NARRATIVE POETRY, A TEENAGER IN LOVE. And with the down answers (SCALP, CHI, ANS, MAYBE, ANTE, BOER, ARMS, TIRE, IRON, TELE, TO ERR) it wasn't difficult to guess PTOLEMAIC SYSTEM.

Saturday puzzles should push me beyond 22:10 on the clock, but I still enjoyed it. Nothing in this puzzle seemed overly-rehashed. Nice to see different clues for EPEE and anything having to do with reed instruments too(ONEREED).

As for Liechtenstein - a branch of my family is from there so it's a name I'm familiar with. That one didn't stump me.

iseattle3 4:20 PM  

@Rex, ONEREED aka A Number One Reed may be an actual thing but no one uses it. No one.

Qvart 5:20 PM  

My Seinfeld link above didn't work. Let's try that again.

And forget the NYT crossword - if you want something that will really hurt your brain, try THIS.

(It took me about two hours).

Oscar 6:12 PM  

Pretty used to HORSE MANURE when I see this byline, so it seemed like par for the course to me.

Noam D. Elkies 6:18 PM  

@Acme: yes, you mentioned yin/CHI and unwound (but not plenipotentiary); not sure why I forgot about it.

@Ulrich: looks like five "cheater" squares at the bottom, not two, plus another four strewn about elsewhere in the grid.


jazzmanchgo 6:20 PM  

WRONG!! Dion's "Teenager In Love" was NOT a doo-wop song! Dion did, in fact, sing some doo-wop, and he did it pretty well for a white boy. But "Teenager in Love" was NOT doo-wop. It was an attempt to cross over into the mainstream teen-dream treacle market, and (for better or for worse) it succeeded.

Evan 7:02 PM  


I don't know Carol Leifer, but my problem with the entry isn't that I think she's too obscure. It's that her last name is pluralized. A pluralized last name implies that there are multiple famous people with that name, not just one plus that person's parents. Unless it's a really common or famous family name, it's a weak entry to me.

joho 7:43 PM  

Hi, @Evan. I think it just means that Carol and family means the Leifers. Doesn't mean they're all famous, just family. That's my take anyway.

3 and out.

Ulrich 8:01 PM  

@Noam: I also thought initially that there were 5. But then I applied the def for cheater squares I knew (when removed, the square does not change the word count), and it seemed to me that you couldn't really remove those 3 in the corner--not individually, and if you remove them collectively, the word count actually changes. So, I stuck with a conservative count.

Evan 8:32 PM  


Yes, I understood the clue for LEIFERS. My point is that it's a weak entry because it's only held up by the plural. The family itself isn't famous, just the one person in it. I don't really like pluralized last names unless the family name is really famous (like the Osmonds, or the First Family, or the Kardashians).

michael 8:43 PM  

I got it, but the middle of my puzzle is a scrawled-over mess. That's what I deserve for trying to do this one (as I always do) with pen on paper. Like many of you, it would have helped if I knew about the first e in Liecthenstein. It is also would have helped if I had come up easily (as I should have) with "a teenager in love." I'm old enough to have heard this song a zillion times....

Thought there was something unusual about the middle of the puzzle...

michael 8:47 PM  

Liechtenstein...that's why I have a lot of writeovers.

Noam D. Elkies 10:08 PM  

@Ulrich: I sit corrected: indeed those three squares don't count as "cheaters". (There's still another one below #56, plus three near the four corners of that central 5*15 rectangle.)

A bit of trivia that might help spell the name of that tiny doubly-landlocked European principality: there are three equally-spaced E's, liEchtEnstEin. Pity that the demonym's fourth E in liEchtEnstEinEr doesn't quite maintain the pattern.


Dirigonzo 10:56 PM  

DNF - total failure, my problem, not the puzzle's. Top and bottom sections were mostly doable for me but in the middle the best I could do was (somebody)INLOVE and (somewhere)STEINER. The rest remained largely blank (except for ONEREED - I used to play the clarinet). Still enjoyed the write-up and all the comments, though so thanks to Rex and everybody for helping me appreciate the finer points of the puzzle.

@Gil I.P. - Nice to see you back, but being from syndiland I didn't even know (yet) that you had been away.

sanfranman59 12:23 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. 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 5:46, 6:12, 0.93, 18%, Easy
Tue 7:32, 8:37, 0.88, 14%, Easy
Wed 12:31, 11:52, 1.06, 66%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 20:13, 17:05, 1.18, 82%, Challenging
Fri 18:22, 21:07, 0.87, 27%, Easy-Medium
Sat 26:55, 24:55, 1.08, 77%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:31, 3:39, 0.96, 26%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:24, 4:57, 0.89, 13%, Easy
Wed 7:05, 6:34, 1.08, 73%, Medium-Challenging
Thu 10:59, 9:27, 1.16, 78%, Medium-Challenging
Fri 11:37, 11:47, 0.99, 46%, Medium
Sat 16:35, 14:36, 1.14, 79%, Medium-Challenging

Anonymous 9:48 AM  

I had trouble in the NW corner. The 1 down/4 down combination (TVPG and TELE) eluded me entirely, especially given the cross with TRITT and VIREO. I thought the NW corner detracted from the otherwise noteworthy stack of fives in the middle. Finished everything else but had difficulty with "Clarinet need" despite having played the instrument.

Notsofast 10:29 AM  

I've waited to see "HORSEMANURE" in a puzzle my entire life. Thank you, JK.

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

the Stanhope Hotel is on Fifth ave diagonally across from the Met museum.Bobby Short played there.I'm pretty sure it's still there,has various artists since Short.
name probably came from this reference,but I always thought it was a person's surname.

Amelia 6:06 PM  

@Anonymous @11:27

The Stanhope Hotel is no longer there. The building is but it's now an apartment building none of us can afford to live in. It was called The Stanhope Apartments for a while but that didn't last, I don't think. Bobby Short played down a couple of streets and one avenue over at the Carlyle Hotel for so long they named the street after him when he died.

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

Thanks for the correction. I don't know how I confused the two hotels. Maybe because I have lived on the West side since 1974. Did both hotels have piano bars?

RonL 1:03 PM  

Didn't get the 5-stack, and I blame it on my response of RICKSHAWS to 34d (One-seat carriages).

Spacecraft 12:09 PM  

I have no love for this. Here's why:

*a rapper.
*the NRA.
*the word "Urban" used as a country singer, to refer to another country singer. Double-ugh.
*"____deal" for ARMS?? Yeah, there are arms deals, I guess; so are there car deals, real estate deals, bridge deals, etc. A completely arbitrary clue; unfair.
*Carol WHO???? Ne. Vah. Heardofher.
*"Blanket" for GENERAL? I suppose you can get there, but really. That's stretching to the UNWOVEN point.
*TELE as "Part of 1d" TVPG. Now THAT's ugly, Betty!

One bright moment was 50a. As the old joke goes: "She was only a stableman's daughter, but all horsemen knew'er."

I'm not as fussy about symmetry "rules" as some others; still, the awkwardness of the grid did nothing for me. I finished the thing, after messing up Paul's land from GALilee to GALATeA to the right one, and FINALLY hitting on GENERAL in the almost-not-finished NW (what a REPULSER!), but there was no joy in it.

DMGrandma 2:15 PM  

I have to agree with @Spacecraft: "There was no joy in it" for me either. At least he finished, I was left with a lot of blanks in the famed five-stack, stumped by the river, Carol?, the doo-wop... Heck, I don't even know what doo-wop is. Didn't even understand some that I got. what is a Tritt? I think someone said a singer. Is SECRECIES really a word? Enough said. I take it this was an admired feat of construction, but I wonder how much Google time it took to find words to make it work?

rain forest 3:38 PM  

I was awed by this puzzle which, at first look, seems impossible, but even with the 5-stack, turned out to be doable. That's a feat. The top and bottom went fairly quickly, helped immensely by PTOLEMAICSYSTEM. I tentatively put in REPULSER, which repulsed me a bit, but it turned out to be correct. Wanted GIVEMEASEC until I worked out VWS, remembered ISSEL, got LIONESSES, and grimacingly put in SMARVELOUS (in my dictionary, it is marvellous).
Even LIECHTENSTEINER came easily. I had to flat out guess at the ADIO/STANHOPE crossing, but that worked, too.
Extremely impressive puzzle for which Rex failed to give sufficient huzzahs. I don't think he likes Joe Krozel, for some reason (crossword snobbery?-HAH)

Connie in Seattle 4:33 PM  

I always remember how to spell Liechtenstein with the old adage "I before E except before C"...oops, never mind.

Waxy in Montreal 6:43 PM  

Wow, nothing SHODdy about this baby. Really enjoyed it from the get-GO. MAYBE symmetrical grids in time will become as bygone as the PTOLEMAICSYSTEM. Actually surprised in a way that the SMARVELOUS Mr. Krozel didn't find a way to include a 16-letter vertical reveal "ASYMMETRICALGRID".

Not being familiar with TRITT or VIREO, I was pleased to see the NW corner emerge unscathed courtesy of its crosses. Same goes for ADIGE and LEIFERS.

And at long last, a payoff for years of stamp-collecting as a youngster: confidently entering - and correctly spelling - LIECHTENSTEINER from just the L in VENAL. ADIO.

Dirigonzo 7:27 PM  

@Waxy - "And at long last, a payoff for years of stamp-collecting as a youngster: confidently entering - and correctly spelling - LIECHTENSTEINER from just the L in VENAL. ADIO." OK, now you're just showing off. But it's still great to see a comment from the one who may be the senior-most (in terms of time posting, not age) poster in syndiland.

Waxy in Montreal 8:58 PM  

@Diri - definitely showing off. When I can polish off a Saturday Medium-Challenging without reference to Prof. Google I'm enjoying it, even at my advanced (st)age.

Joshua 9:28 PM  

If a NYT crossword puzzle is asymmetrical, there ought to be a really good reason for that. In this case, there wasn't.

Anonymous 5:58 PM  

I'm way behind on my crosswords (I had five stacked up in my briefcase when I began this one, concidentally), have been for a while, and hardly ever check this blog any more as a result. But I had to read the comments on this one, which broke so many of the "rules".

I wasn't so much impressed with the puzzle as I was impressed that it made the cut. I actually whipped through this fairly quickly, plunking down ELECTEDOFFICIAL/S'MARVELOUS/SLYLY right off the bat. The rest just seemd to come so easily. Only writeovers were CHI over yin.

I thought VWS directly above VANESSAWILLIAMS was a nice touch. Also enjoyed the approximate symmetry (close enough for this grid) of BEERS and ALE.

Carol Leifer: yes, very funny.

This puzzle: not that bad. When you consider the other choices it's actually pretty refreshing.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP