Boss Tweed lampooner / WED 1-2-13 / Singer/actress Luft / Actress Pflug / Japan's largest active volcano / Hit for Guy Lombardo 1937 Jimmy Dorsey 1957 / FDA banned diet pill ingredient / Italian city that is title setting of Walpole novel / Newsgroup system since 1980 /

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Constructor: David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: FROOT / LOOPS (1A: With 71-Across, breakfast choice .. or a punny hint to this puzzle's theme) — circles in the grid form loops, and those loops spell out types of fruit.


Word of the Day: JO ANN Pflug (51D: Actress Pflug) —

Jo Ann Pflug (born May 2, 1940) is a former American motion picture and television actress, who retired in 1997.
Pflug's first major role was as U.S. Army nurse Lt. Maria "Dish" Schneider in 1970's MASH. Other notable roles include the voice of Invisible Girl in the 1967 animated version of Fantastic Four, Lt. Katherine O'Hara in the television series spin-off of Operation Petticoat and Cynthia Vaughn in 1997's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (her last role to date).
Pflug was also a frequent panelist on the television game shows Match Game from 1973–1981, a co-host with Allen Funt on the 1970s version of Candid Camera, and a regular on the TV series The Fall Guy in 1981-1982. In 1984, she was the first actress to play Taylor Chapin on the unsuccessful syndicated soap operaRituals. According to Soap Opera Digest, Pflug's highly publicized departure from the burgeoning drama was because her role called for sex-related scenes involving characters not married to each other, which conflicted with her Christian beliefs.
Pflug's only marriage was to game show host Chuck Woolery. The couple married in 1972 and divorced in 1980. They have one daughter, Melissa. (wikipedia)
• • •

This works. Now, the fill is not great, and by "not great" I mean decidedly below average. Scads of crosswordy names, foreign words, Latinisms, a meeting of the ASSAYERs and IRONERS Union Local 3010, ODORIZE, and whatever ONE C is (I mean, really) (41D: Ten sawbucks). But the theme is really tight and beautifully executed, and puts extraordinary demands on the fill, so ... I extend forgiveness for the ugliness. I mean, he really sticks the landing here. All the LOOPS are symmetrical. All the fruits start at the top of their respective loops. The vast majority of answers in the grid TRANSECT theme material. It's a very high bar. So, yeah, OTRANTO (and FLOR, but thumbs-up for theme ambition (46D: Italian city that is the title setting of a Walpole novel + 1D: Dona ___ (1976 Sonia Braga role)).

I got off to a slow start, first because I couldn't remember Mies's last name (2D: Architect Mies van der ROHE). I had it as RIES at first, but that's just an echo of his first name. Then I remembered the "O" sound but wanted it ROHS ... ugh. I also just couldn't figure out the FROOT part. No idea what "breakfast choice" could start FRO- ... but then the LOOPS part became obvious just from the arrangement of circled squares, and I pieced it together. Do people really know ESA and ASO. I must know the former, as it was my first guess, but the latter was All Crosses. I did not know NON-ARAB was a thing (57A: Jewish or Iranian, e.g.), but then I didn't know ODORIZE was a thing either, so too bad for me. E-PUB is possibly the worst of the E-words (56D: Digital book file extension), surpassing even E-CASH and E-NOTE. I clearly don't have my noise meanings down pat, because I struggled with both YAH (42A: Cry of derision) and AYS (32D: Sorrowful cries). No one uses SOAPER any more (33D: Melodramatic series, in slang), I guarantee you. Oh, maybe "Variety" does, I don't know. But no humans. I think the SOAPER works with the IRONERS at the laundry.

Names posed the biggest problem in this puzzle. Never heard of LORNA Luft; she is the half-sister of Liza Minnelli, among other things. Learned about the NAST / Tweed connection in a puzzle about five years ago, and never forgot it (15A: Boss Tweed lampooner). Not sure how I knew "SO RARE" (55A: Hit for Guy Lombardo in 1937 and Jimmy Dorsey in 1957), except perhaps from having seen it suggested by my crossword-constructing software, whereupon I would've said "I have no idea what that is. I'm not putting that in my grid." I forgot USENET even existed (23D: Newsgroup system since 1980), and thought the answer was going to be some kind of Itar-Tass equivalent. AP? UPI? Something like that.

This is what I'd call an ugly win. But it's a win.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:14 AM  

Cute theme, but a bit on the tough side for a Wed. for me too. Took a while to see MOSLEM plus I had hAH for YAH and tried to fit cnote into the ONEC slot. 

WOE: OTARANO and didn't someone with a medical background recently point out that TER is not nor may never have been used in Rxs?

Lotsa names with some that are pretty obscure for a Wed...JOANN, ARRAU, TORRE and YAZ ( for the sports challenged), LORNA and BRIAN ( for those under 40), CARR...

I liked it.  Not bad as circle puzzles go.

Anonymous 12:15 AM  

I'm mostly with Rexy on this one, and that doesn't happen too often. The theme is excellent, perfectly done, and there is a lot of it.

The price for the theme is seriously steep, and mostly on the long stuff. SOAPERS, IRONERS, OTRANTO, RELABEL.

ONE C. WTF is that? It's right down there with Contrived Roman Numeral.

I was actually more disappointed with the generally uninspired cluing than the ugly fill.

I especially liked SANTA ANA because even after I had it, I came back to that double-A and let it throw me again and again; just couldn't look at it and see two words.

Knocked this one down to just a few letters in about my usual Wednesday time, but spent a LOT of time trusting the variant MOSLEM crossing ESA, and accepting ARRUA took awhile also, so my finished time was way high for Wednesday.

Finished grid.

Anonymous 12:18 AM  

Edit: "accepting ARRAU".

Anonymous 12:21 AM  

More info to file away for use some day--Mies van der Rohe is his last name. Ludwig is his first name.

Anonymous 12:27 AM  

I got FRUIT LOOPS early on, but couldn't accept FROOT. I've probably seen the box 10,000 times but never noticed the FROOT. Maybe I was awed by Toucan Sam's schnoz. 10,000 times in a row.

lymank 12:44 AM  

I would have been sunk without referring to the Froot Loops in a few spots. Although it was a pretty long Wednesday for me, I finished with no Googles. But I did get some help from my brilliant daughter, who knew Otranto!

Anonymous 1:16 AM  

So many things I didn't know: SEGO lily, JOANN Pflug, Claudio ARRAU, UVEA, SO RARE, OTRANTO, ESA Tikkanen, TER, USENET, ITER, LORNA Luft, give A RAP, TAEBO...

Never saw the "fruit loops" circles. DNF. Aargh.

Arrau Carr Moslems 2:00 AM  

Nice! But major mess in SW...never got past "vOLARE" so couldn't figure out the kind of lily AND had changed Pflug to JOANa :(
But definitely used the circles to get all the LOOPS.
Major use of theme to get fill, as it should be, or at least could be!

JOANN Pflug married to Chuck Woolery, before his "Love Connection" heyday! Who knew?!?! I'll be back in two and two.

Ok, I'm back. Can some NONARAB explain to me the diff between MOSLEM and MuSLim?

Are OTRANTO and ToRoNTO sister cities? (i actually don't give ARAP)

Anyway, bravo, David Steinberg, not yet out of highschool, already a crossword puzzle constructor, litzer AND editor...
Oh, and I liked CAPN Crunch lightly reflecting FROOT LOOPS! At first I thought the circles were gonna be cereal bowls. File that under overthinking.

retired_chemist 2:19 AM  

Played like a Friday, which means a tough Wednesday. What Rex said.

Considered TRANSEPT/PARR but decided the former was a stretch. Didn't know the author. BERRA instead of TORRE at first. TID for TER. SEMITIC for NON-ARAB (wrong - i\Iranians aren;t.).

Nice one.

jae 2:53 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 3:02 AM  

I meant to add that I skimmed over the 59d clue and had a C instead of an A at first.

And, in the spirit of anon 12:18: Edit: "WOE: OTRANTO" dyslexia sucks!

Danp 4:20 AM  

Auden, Aiken, Pflug, Esa, Arrau, Brian Jones, Luft, Rohe, Billy Blanks?

Way too many obscure names. Also uneven cluing. NE was Monday-level, while the SW was obscure names crossing could-be-anything clues.

Anonymous 5:06 AM  

Can we stop cluing actors who no longer work as just "Actor _____"? Shouldn't it be "former" actor?

Anyways, I don't get how it's acceptable to have such horrible fill just to get the theme right. I really don't care what the theme is if I have to write in NONARAB, ODORIZE etc. Not worth it.

MetaRex 6:17 AM  

Maybe because FROOT LOOPS is a junky sugared cereal that brings back memories of the bad old days when misspelling ruled the roost (Amtrak, Radio Shak, etc.), the theme didn't resonate for me.

I like USENET, which has a pleasant nostalgic association for me--it was all I had access to on my office computer for a while in the early 90s. I also like the YEP YAH YAZ short fill, JANE + EYRE, and CAPN (CRUNCH) as an evil complement to the evil FROOT LOOPS.

Glimmerglass 7:38 AM  

Do you know that FROOT LOOPS contain no real froot?

Rob C 7:57 AM  

Fun theme but as mentioned by others, some of the fill is less than ideal. Never heard of SOAPER, NON ARAB, ODORIZE. FLOR, ROHE not in my zone-but the crosses helped complete the NW. Good theme trumps the iffy fill.

Knew the spelling of FROOT through osmosis b/c I never liked FROOT LOOPS - somehow it stuck with me.

By the way, an xword puzzle of mine is in the LA Times today. Give it a try and I hope you enjoy.

Unknown 8:06 AM  

Finished the puzzle, but did not enjoy it. Far too much obscurity for a Wednesday.

I disagree with @Rex about ePub, though. It's a legit file format, like JPEG or PDF. From Wikipedia: a free and open e-book standard by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF). Files have the extension .epub.

I expect we'll be hearing a lot more about it in the coming years.

MetaRex 8:11 AM  

Rex's noting that his crossword-constructing software might have once spat out SO RARE, which he would have disdained as fill (I wouldn't--what is so rare as a day in June?) pushed me over the edge this morning to check out CWP software to see if it's any good.

Early results are here

joho 8:27 AM  

Theme = sweet, fresh & juicy! Fill = not so much. @Rex said it perfectly in his write up.

I learned how to properly spell FROOT.

How are AYS "sorrowful sounds?"

I changed the middle top section only because ITER is one my most dreadful archaic words:

Maybe not a whole lot better but without ITER!

Absolutely loved the theme, thank you, David Steinberg!

Milford 8:28 AM  

I have an old FROOT LOOPS sign hanging in my kitchen, so I knew the spelling. The theme was fun and included nice, long fruits for theme, but man, I had countless writeovers and had to Google the jazz dude in the SW to finish.

All the weird fill has already been mentioned, but I also had mAy WE in the NE, which made that LOOP a pApAyA before BANANA. Also had Sirrocco (sic) before SANTA ANA, SOAP op before SOAPER, and fen-phen before EPHEDRA. I think too many days of bad snacking and alcohol have addled my brain.

Difficult but fun, so I'll take it.

Yesterday my kids asked me what day of the week it was. The only reason I knew off the top of my head was because I knew which day's crossword I had completed. Sad, but true.

joho 8:30 AM  

That didn't work out very well. PAIR is going down next to ASL, LAG & SCULLS.

jackj 8:43 AM  

With David being of a relatively tender age, we can guess that the puzzle’s theme hint of FROOT LOOPS likely represents what Master Steinberg had for breakfast the day he whipped up this fruit salad.

The fruit flavors sprinkled throughout the grid in 6 separate groupings of circled letters presumably are meant to reflect the colors and flavors in FROOT LOOPS but a search of Yahoo Answers tells us that a pre-school kiddies taste test shows that the cereal actually tastes like organic cardboard.

David distinguishes himself with some of the puzzle’s fill; TRANSECT leads the pack while EPHEDRA, KNOLLS and ONRAMPS add more bite and the Latin lover’s doggerel cutely tells us “Amo, amas, I love____” ALASS.

There were some painful groaners like NONARAB, IRONERS, SOAPER, RELABEL and oh, no, OTRANTO, along with enough crosswordesey flakes to fill a small cereal box (and it was, of course, disappointing that rival CAPN Crunch appeared while the cereal’s mascot, Toucan Sam was a no-show).

If one really wants an education in the attraction of FROOT LOOPS, Yahoo Answers has many fascinating questions from young consumers, a typical one being:

“Did you ever put froot loops up your nose?

I did it to make my little brother laugh. One went all the way in and I had to cough it out.”

Sounds like they need an appropriate FDA warning label on the box, “Inhaling this product may be harmful to your health”.

Zed 9:36 AM  

vOlARE gave me vEGa at 55D giving me aN-S at 69A. Is an anus a hard thing to carry? Just askin'.

@Arrau Carr Moslems - One should not knowingly refer to an adherent of Islam as a "Moslem." A Doctor of Sociology once gave me the long explanation, but the short answer is that it is extremely insulting. Well, I guess if you want to insult someone....

chefbea 9:37 AM  

Cute puzzle but DNF cuz I spelled 1A fruit!!! Thought the themed would be mixed fruit. Finally got the loops. Getting the names of fruit was easy.

rgards 9:43 AM  

As a long-time lurker, I wish to thank Rex and the regular commentators to this blog for greatly enhancing the pleasure of the NYT crossword experience which, for me, dates back to the early 1970s. Tackling the puzzle and enjoying the post-puzzle discussion has become a daily highlight of sorts.

Given my increased interest in puzzles, it was no surprise that I received an NYT crossword puzzle book over the holidays. (Indeed, surprises were few, given the shared Amazon wish list on the household computer.) It contains Friday and Saturday puzzles, which remain something of a stretch for me.
Here’s a point that I would like to make to Rex and Will Shortz, if he monitors this site. My enjoyment of this compilation would be increased if each puzzle were keyed to Rex’s archive. I would wrestle with the puzzle then, in all likelihood, go immediately to Rex’s site. As it is now,I work on the puzzle and either complete it or abandon it. I suppose I could run a search by author, then examine the hits to ascertain the date the puzzle appeared, and only then determine whether it is within Rex’s reign – but it would be nice make that a one-click journey. It would seem possible to monetize such a thing; at least I would pay something for the service.

My best wishes for health and happiness to Rex and the entire community in 2013.

OldCarFudd 10:09 AM  

If MOSLEM is insulting to Muslims (I didn't know it was), the NYT has reverted to its non-PC roots. My sister sent me a package of old NYT crosswords for Xmas (I await the blood-curdling screams over this abbreviation), one from every year back to 1942. Those old ones are real stinkers, but what really got me was this from 1942:

Clue: Italians

Answer: (drum roll, please) DAGOS

In the sainted New York Times! So MOSLEMS may show that nothing changes much.

xyz 10:22 AM  

Wow what a great puzzle! Not really, New York Times is 0 for 2 so far this year. To agree with everyone, bad clues, bad fill Flynn theme (I response circles)
at least I finished about typical Wednesday time.

Notsofast 10:24 AM  

First Wed DNF for me! I haven't used or seen the word "MOSLEM" in so long, I had forgotten it. "ESA" and "MARI" as crosses didn't help. Otherwise a good, not great puzzle.

xyz 10:25 AM  

Make that thin theme and despise circles. Even my phone didn't like it ...

John V 10:32 AM  

Yeah, what @Rex said about fill. Theme cute, fun, but the fill broke it for me, waaay to much CAP for my taste. OTRANTO? Really?

DNF with OTRANTO, JANe/JOANN, TERE/CARR/EYRE. Stacking EYRE and CARR next to each other is a vertical Natick, to me.

Neat theme, fill ranged from Monday to Saturday in difficulty.

Two Ponies 10:41 AM  

The pain of the fill was too much for me, sorry.
Like @Andrea I could not let go of Volare. Never heard of So Rare and lots of other stuff like the Italian city crossing a baseball manager? I mean really, I might have a chance with a famous player but a manager?
The only fun I had was the Doh! moment as I was parsing the top fruit. Melon water? What's that??
Oh, never mind.
I thought JoAnn Pflug was on Laugh In.
@ rgards, Welcome!

Masked and Anonymous 10:45 AM  

Loopy grid. Especially liked ASGL, RI, LE, AR, AN, and OEVE.*

Looks like the kid got near the end of his grid-buildin' and yelped out " Day-um...awful short on U's!". Started to miss froot with a U. Goosed up the count, coming down the home stretch. EPUB/UVEA. ARRAU. Avoided the Frootloop Cliff, but had to compromise. But thOOmbsOOp for gumption.


* chewy froot centers

lawprof 10:49 AM  

This was a toughie for a Wednesday. I wasn't familiar with LORNA, NAST, ALASS, ROHE, TAEBO, ESA, USENET, CARR, OTRANTO, ASO, or JOANN -- that's a lot of unknowns to overcome.

But in this case I did pick up the theme fairly early (FRuiT/FROOT writeover notwithstanding), which was helpful, and the crosses finished up the rest of the grid.

I don't mind obscure fill as long as there's something else in the puzzle to help out, such as fair crosses or the theme. That describes today's elegant puzzle. Good fun.

Sandy K 10:56 AM  

Had 2nd part of LOOPS and all the fruits- really good theme- but kept staring at 1 across...til it dawned on me that it's spelled FROOT.

For me, some challenging fill- OTRANTO, ARRAU, MARI, E-PUB, and some not so apt cluing eg YAH? AYS?

But agree with @Rob C that the clever theme made up for it, and @acme- circled answers helped in the solve. So YEP, I liked it!

DB Geezer 11:04 AM  

@ACME et al. According to

According to the Center for Nonproliferation Studies,"Moslem and Muslim are basically two different spellings for the same word." But the seemingly arbitrary choice of spellings is a sensitive subject for many followers of Islam. Whereas for most English speakers, the two words are synonymous in meaning, the Arabic roots of the two words are very different. A Muslim in Arabic means"one who gives himself to God," and is by definition, someone who adheres to Islam. By contrast, a Moslem in Arabic means"one who is evil and unjust" when the word is pronounced, as it is in English, Mozlem with a z.

For others, this spelling differentiation is merely a linguistic matter, with the two spellings a result of variation in transliteration methods. Both Moslem and Muslim are used as nouns. But some writers use Moslem when the word is employed as an adjective.

Journalists switched to Muslim from Moslem in recent years under pressure from Islamic groups. But the use of the word Moslem has not entirely ceased. Established institutions which used the older form of the name have been reluctant to change. The American Moslem Foundation is still the American Moslem Foundation (much as the NAACP is still the NAACP--the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). The journal The Moslem World--published by the Hartford Seminary in Connecticut--is still The Moslem World.

DB Geezer 11:05 AM  

@ACME et al. According to

According to the Center for Nonproliferation Studies,"Moslem and Muslim are basically two different spellings for the same word." But the seemingly arbitrary choice of spellings is a sensitive subject for many followers of Islam. Whereas for most English speakers, the two words are synonymous in meaning, the Arabic roots of the two words are very different. A Muslim in Arabic means"one who gives himself to God," and is by definition, someone who adheres to Islam. By contrast, a Moslem in Arabic means"one who is evil and unjust" when the word is pronounced, as it is in English, Mozlem with a z.

For others, this spelling differentiation is merely a linguistic matter, with the two spellings a result of variation in transliteration methods. Both Moslem and Muslim are used as nouns. But some writers use Moslem when the word is employed as an adjective.

Journalists switched to Muslim from Moslem in recent years under pressure from Islamic groups. But the use of the word Moslem has not entirely ceased. Established institutions which used the older form of the name have been reluctant to change. The American Moslem Foundation is still the American Moslem Foundation (much as the NAACP is still the NAACP--the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). The journal The Moslem World--published by the Hartford Seminary in Connecticut--is still The Moslem World.

Nancy 11:09 AM  

I take issue with 11-D.Request for permission is not 'Can we' but 'May we'. The word Can refers to the ability to do something and May refers to being allowed to do something.
Too many proper names for me and awkward clues

Bob Kerfuffle 11:14 AM  

Medium for me, maybe because most of the proper names seemed familiar.

But if Joann Pflug hadn't been Rex's WOTD, I, as had @Two Ponies, would still be picturing Jo Anne Worley.

Unknown 11:24 AM  

I think vOlARE isn't getting enough play here. I'd call it a double-Natick but it's worse than that, as VOLARE was totally plausible and was actually performed by Guy Lombardo. In a puzzle where OTRANTO crosses pharmacy-speak, it takes a lot for something to stand out.

Gareth Bain 11:25 AM  

Surprised you didn't give us a photo of a John Dickson CARR novel from your collection!

Yes it's an ambitious puzzle, but I can't help feeling I'd have enjoyed it more with only four loops and less dreck... If it's not OK to have such subpar fill in a quad stack, it isn't OK in a themed puzzle, surely? But I agree that it is a very clever theme indeed! (And I do think EPUB is clearly better than ECASH and ENOTE, several of my ebooks are in epub format, whereas I've never seen the other two being used anywhere, nor indeed emag!)

Unknown 11:27 AM  

Mind blown that Chuck Woolery was married to Joann PFLUG. Glad I read all comments since I was also picturing Joanne Worley :-/

Oh, SORARE is two words. That helps.

So bummed that I can't find a clip of David Alan Grier doing an impersonation of Maya Angelou in a Froot Loops commercial from SNL. Anyone? Anyone?

GILL I. 11:30 AM  

I thought this was a terrific puzzle. I don't ever remember seeing one like it. All the theme answers in a nice frooty order.
I guess if we get a crosswords without three letter fill, we'd be drooling all over the place. This short fill didn't bother at all. If I had to grouse it would be AYS at 32D. I guess you'd pronounce it like ayayay?
@Rex are those little hot dogs with little hats singing ya ya?

bigsteve46 11:35 AM  

To stick my 2-cents into the general neighborhood Moslem/Muslim broohaha, I would also find fault with the "nonarab" answer. While an Iranian is certainly a non-Arab, an Arab can certainly be Jewish. Israel was largely populated in its early days by Arab Jews from all over the Middle East: "Arab identity is defined independently of religious identity, and pre-dates the rise of Islam, with historically attested Arab Christian kingdoms and Arab Jewish tribes." (part Wikipedia entry for "Arab")

quilter1 11:35 AM  

Mostly easy but DNF as I spelled FROOT FRuiT and so could not see the ONRAMPS. I kept wanting to put in ORAL but overthought it all. I enjoyed the rest.

Cheerio 11:36 AM  

@regard - this is not really on point, but there is a start-up company "Small Demons" that is creating links to references in books.

I learned a lot of interesting bits from this puzzle, and I really like that experience, so thanks!

My only quibble is that it strikes me that in general in NYT puzzles, the bar for show/music biz people to be puzzle-worthy is lower than for everybody else. I suppose the obvious defense is that show biz people get a lot of media exposure, but once you get out of the really top tier of performers, I'm not sure the difference in exposure relative to other types of fame is so true.

bigsteve46 11:41 AM  

Can somebody again please explain why the prove-you're-not-a-robot thing has to be so difficult to read? Do all of you other commenters, especially the almost-every-day ones, have to go through this step, too? Just curious ...

quilter1 11:45 AM  

@OldCarFudd: I did that NYT puzzle book on vacation a couple of years ago and talk about your non-PC answers!
My daughter and mother went to Italy together about a decade ago and at dinner one evening the waiter asked if they would like to order wine. There was a bottle of red on every table. Mom gestured to the bottle and said, No, we'll just stick with the dago red. Daughter slid quietly under the tablecloth.

Anonymous 11:55 AM  

Yeah, very lousy "not a robot' tool. There are far superior options for achieving the goal without causing such hassles for users. I often have to refresh several times to get one that I can read. It's a sh.. system.

Unlike a lot of the E____ entries that we see, EPUB is a totally real and quite common thing.

Evan 11:59 AM  

Agreed with @Gareth. The concept is great but the fill might have been really improved with one or two fewer loops. The less I see SOAPER in a puzzle, the better. Is SOAPER the long-lost cousin of the slang term for a comedic series, the SIT-COMER?

And I see E-PUB all the time nowadays ever since I mostly switched over to reading e-books for grad school. It's a hell of a lot easier to take notes and blockquote important passages that way.

@Susan McConnell:

Ask, and ye shall receive.

Lewis 12:04 PM  

Naticked at O?RANTO/?ER and AR?AU/SO?ARE -- guessed the latter right.

Does not the 28D clue indicate an abbreviation, with the answer PLEA not being one?

The theme loops definitely helped me get some of the obscure answers.

I didn't know Iranians weren't Arabs. Good thing to know!

syndy 12:07 PM  

Okay this is how I see it,the Froot entries went in-which gave us YEP and YAH right across the center.At which point David figured that the bloom was off the rose anyway so why bother!In what non fraud sense does putting on sale mean to RELABEL? ODORIZE is actually a thing-a very important thing but the clue made no sense.Now I wish I had just put in my FROOTS and left the rest alone

David 12:30 PM  

Does everyone but me say 'give A RAP'? I've only heard the expression 'I don't give a rip'.

Sparky 12:32 PM  

DNF. Kept FRuiT for no good reason, thus missed oNRA--S, -S-EM and E-A. Cute fruit loops and spelling them helped in the grid.

I am trying to sing SO RARE in my head and am coming up with Claire by Gilbert O'Sullivan.

@SusanMcConnell: That would be a hoot. I hope someone finds it. @RobC: I'll check the LATimes, thanks. @bigsteve46: don't try to read them. They are just letters. I look at each letter separately; capital?, small?, and fill in one by one. Seldom rejected.

2 nine letter and 4 six letter fruits, that's pretty good David Steinberg. The big ones look like leis prenented to us.

obertb 12:36 PM  

Thomas Nast: Among his notable works were the creation of the modern version of Santa Claus and the political symbol of the elephant for the Republican Party. (Wikipedia)

Zed 12:36 PM  

@bigsteve46 - Yep on the Non-Arab thing. I was going to mention it and forgot in the re-writing of my original post.

@DB Geezer - I think that article understates the current level of offensiveness to many American Muslims of Arabic descent. Of course, they are hardly a monolithic group, but on a scale of 1 - 10 it's probably a 7 (where N***** is a 10). Calling an Iranian-American an "Arab" is probably an 8.

@bigsteve46 - The robot detector is a function of blogger, which is a Google product. So much for the "Do No Evil" thing (although, to be fair, it is more annoying than pure evil).

Sparky 12:39 PM  

Thanks @Evan. @Dave: Actually I say"Don't give rodent's posterior," but that wouldn't fit in the grid.

Unknown 12:44 PM  

Omg @Evan YOU ARE MY HERO! Hahahahahahahahahaha!!!!

David Steinberg 12:55 PM  

Thanks for the writeup, Rex, and for all the comments, everybody! I built this puzzle when I was 14, and it was accepted more than a year ago. Although the loops constrained the fill a lot, nowadays I might be able to eliminate some of the more obscure entries if I were to build the puzzle over again. Then again, maybe not, because the grid was pretty challenging! By the way, I'm not a big fan of the cereal--I've tried Froot Loops a few times, but they're a little too sweet, and the milk ends up looking kind of disgusting after they've sat there for a while.

Anonymous 12:57 PM  

Agreee that it's a well-conceptualized and executed theme, but not that it's a win. It's wonderful that the constructor thought up so many froot loops, but when you need almost encyclopedic knowledge of random foreign non-celebrities and obscure terms, the puzzle necessarily fails.

Masked and Anonymo3Us 1:22 PM  

@Davis S. 12:55-- Impressive. At age 14, I doubt I could even spell CANTALOUPE. Still don't look right, btw. Thanx for the entertainment and the drop-in.

Fave fillins: YAH, YEP, YAZ. Hat-trick.

Fave clue: Amo, amas, I love ___". Leaves you wantin' to hear the second verse.

Fave froot: BANANA. Works counterclockwise, too.

New Year's Resolution: Redecorate comments, to better coordinate with 31's newish website look. So far, mission accomplished.

John V 1:32 PM  

@bigsteve46 re: 28d clue. I read E.G. an abbreviation for, "for example", which is part of the clue, not part of the answer. "For example" is sometimes seen in a clue.

jackj 1:38 PM  

Rob C-

(For those who will solve today’s LA Times puzzle but haven’t yet done so, please skip this post.

Clues and answers are divulged.)

As I was saying, Rob-

Very much enjoyed your effort in today’s LA Times, especially the cluing for DUD, ROMAN and NAMENAMES and art lover that I am, COLLAGE, clued honestly, was appreciated.

Good theme. We in coastal Massachusetts are hoping that the subjects of your theme will be around for the long term.

M and A's last silver cantaloupe 1:46 PM  

p.s. @David S. -- Sorry. At my age, still can't spell DAVID. That's why I stick to buildin' grids filled solely with letter E's. And hire high schoolers to write all my clues. And hire CPAs to number my grid.
Speaking of which, I bet CPA's are about fillin' their drawers right now, trying to figure out 2013 tax laws.


Rob C 1:46 PM  

@jackj - thanks for the nice words. Glad you enjoyed it.

Cheerio 2:02 PM  

Web definition of sawbuck:

Slang term for the U.S. ten dollar paper currency. The slang is derived from the Roman numeral for ten, "X". The "X" looks like the shape of a sawbuck, a device used to hold wood in place for sawing it into pieces.

Read more:

John 2:17 PM  

This puz goes into the Obscurity Hall of Fame. Of particular note, no one ever ever ever called a soap opera a soaper. Just soap, or soaps. Loved that Rex didn't know about Lorna Luft, since he knows about 10 million more things than I do and now I find out I knew one thing more than he did :))

Qvart 3:35 PM  

Definitely challenging. DNF by three letters. Made some quick progress then hit the wall. Figured out the theme and made a little more progress, then hit another wall. Too many names/people/places I don't know and not enough crosses to work them out.


Gave up at 17:06.

Rube 3:43 PM  

Apparently you have to be of a certain age and musical inclination to consider ARRAU a gimme with no letters and then plunk down SO RARE with only the additional help of, (the very crosswordese), SEGO.

Of course, keeping FRuiT too long does not help with the solve time... in fact, gave up last night and had to wait 'til morning to see FROOT.

Yes, I agree that there is a lot of ugly fill, but the theme was inspired.

Anonymous 4:34 PM  

A sawbuck was a thing used in carpentry. It was X shaped. X is Roman numeral ten. A sawbuck became a slang for ten " bucks" "C" is Roman for 100.

Notsofast 4:46 PM  

And a five is a "FIN" for some reason...

joho 4:49 PM  

@David Steinberg ... " I built this puzzle when I was 14, and it was accepted more than a year ago.

Wow, is that humbling. Imagine how brilliant your puzzles will be when you're 18!

3 and out.

sanfranman59 5:06 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

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

Wed 14:12, 11:52, 1.20, 87%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Wed 8:12, 6:34, 1.25, 92%, Challenging

webwinger 6:01 PM  

Made a resolution to join in the party @Rex this year after long being a wallflower. Really enjoyed today’s puzzle (and also yesterday’s), despite the abundance of obscure/clunky fill, which didn’t bother me too much except in the SW, where like others I clung to Volare, believed in vega lily, and tried to imagine carrying an anus. Really wanted Oys instead of Ays, especially after seeing Oy Vey yesterday. I’m a symmetry freak (hated Saturday 12/29), probably for deep neurophysiologic reasons relating to being (almost) ambidextrous, and was especially pleased by the arrangement of the loops today. No problem at all with Froot, though its been years since I was at the table with a box of these. I do remember vividly, as prodigy constructor David pointed out, the yukky color they gave to milk. Thanks to Rex and all for adding much to the fun of doing the puzzles.

Sonny 7:10 PM  

Me, I'm Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, so screw this puzzle.

Sfingi 9:02 PM  

Can't stand sugared cereals, but fruit (not FROOT) is nice.

Noticed NAST and ARAP on the "other" puzzle. Only other place I've seen give ARAP. I say ratsass.

The stuff I didn't get was sports, as usual, so nothing too obscure otherwise. @Rube - yes sometimes we get the breaks, which is great from a 14-year-old. (Thanx David)

Muslims/Mooslums,etc. If you say it wrong to the wrong person, watch out.

Dona FLOR and Her Two Husbands - a must see.

sanfranman59 10:02 PM  

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 5:45, 6:12, 0.93, 18%, Easy
Tue 7:31, 8:37, 0.87, 14%, Easy
Wed 14:17, 11:52, 1.20, 87%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:43, 3:39, 1.02, 58%, Medium
Tue 4:33, 4:57, 0.92, 18%, Easy
Wed 7:54, 6:34, 1.20, 90%, Challenging

Michael 10:17 PM  

Is there some sort of crossword puzzle dictionary. If not, I am astonished that a teenage constructer knows Joann Plug, So Rare, Dona Flor, Lorna Luft, usenet, Arrau, Otranto,,,

retired_chemist 10:48 PM  

@ rgards - I suspect a more likely scenario would be for the Editor to provide the publication date for each NYT puzzle in the compilation. Then you can look it up in Rex's archive if it is there. if it's on paper you have to do some typing anyway.

Either way you could just e-mail Will, who will at least read and consider it.

JenCT 11:05 PM  

@Sparky: LOL "Actually I say "Don't give rodent's posterior," but that wouldn't fit in the grid."

DNF for me, too - although I did know FROOT.

Also had VOLARE - my old friend used to say that singing Volare was the cure when you had a song stuck in your head. (Is that what they call an earworm?)

Carola 11:26 PM  

Very cute! Liked using the LOOPS to fill in some of the FROOTS. Found it on the easier side, as I happened to know most of the proper names (for a change).

Ellen S 1:37 AM  

@rgards -- I found this blog in the first place when I was doing the syndicated puzzle. I was googling some clue and one of the hits was a reference on this blog. After a while I began just searching on some of the less common clues or answers + "Rex Parker" and came to see the writeup. So, easier than creating some complicated index, just google some of the weirder words, like "odorize" or ... "Soaper"???

@Evan, I should have gone on to a PhD, maybe I could have found that SNL clip, too! But thanks, I enjoyed it. (See, that's why education should be free and public: we all benefit.)

@bigsteve46, I get the captcha right on the first try about 2 out of three times. And robots leak in despite its difficulty for humans. And thank you for your 2 cents about non-arab. My first thought was, why Jews? Chinese aren't Arabs either! And then I thought, why aren't there Arab Jews? So thanks for pointing out that there are. I imagine it was a trap for people who think Iranians are Arabs. @David S -- congratulations for that, and thanks for a fun puzzle. As I understand it, Arabs, well, what makes them Arabs is they speak Arabic, while Iranians, or Persians as they used to be called, speak Farsi. And Chinese speak Chinese. Still Muslim (except for the Jewish ones), just not Arab. (That is, there are Chinese Muslims, but not Chinese Arabs.)

@Sparky, I sometimes say that too, but more often, I don't give a cRAP, which is how I kept reading the spaces but somehow there wasn't room

acme 5:38 AM  

Wow, @evan...thanks! Hilarious!
And to others for explaing the whole NONARAB, MUSLIM/MOSLEM thing, I knew something was amiss, (ALASS?) just not sure what!

@Michael 10:17
of course there are dictionaries and databases...
that's the only problem I have, this is nothing personal to David who is in a class by himself, but the thing is, when folks use databases instead of drawing from their own knowledge, I think they have difficulty discerning what is totally obscure from plausible and gettable (which of course is what an editor is for, but once it's in the grid hard and fast, hard to undo.)

Like, in the scheme of things, I would imagine Lorna Luft is less obscure than Joann Pflug, but neither would make it into an early week puzzle.
So since David, or other database dependent constructors, don't know these folks from real life experience as opposed to needing that letter combo, they can't gauge the difficulty level and the strength of the databases is important.
Some database creators try to "rank" entries, presumably by both how easy it then is to fill the grid as well as how well known or not something is, which of course will wildly vary by sex, age, geography, etc.
So I think that while david's (and other young constructors) ideas will be cutting edge and creative and judgable (? is that a word) outside of how old s/he is, I do think the grids will improve as s/he develops a better sense of what is knowable by folks.
If you have only been on the planet less than 16 years, even tho there is now Google, etc and the whole world's collective knowledge at your fingertips, you still need experience and firsthand connection with words, names, knowledge in general to make a strong, clean grid not rife with obscurities, which I have to say, this one teetered on the brink of acceptability in that area...tho if Will didn't think they could all be gotten by crosses, he wouldn't have published it.
I'm trying to say that a 14 yr old wouldn't know LUFT from NAST, or be able to gauge if we know these things. S/he has to put blind trust in the databases. And that's going to lead to results like this, a mixed bag on many levels but an overall wonderful achievement.

Unknown 7:17 AM  

Great thoughts you got there, believe I may possibly try just some of it throughout my daily life.

Web Design Company New York

GeneS 2:38 PM  

Have written prescriptions for 40 years and have never used or seen TER

xyz 4:28 PM  


ter in die

aka t.i.d.

as in valium 10 mg. t.i.d. to tolerate these puzzles lately

Dr. redanman

Anonymous 8:10 AM  

Where on earth is "YAH" a "Cry of Derision?"

Spacecraft 11:48 AM  

Let me add one more FROOT to this salad: the ugli! There's so much awful fill...well, just a few mentions...give ARAP (care)? Never heard anybody say that. A rat's ass, maybe. AY as a cry of sorrow? Not that I'm aware. Last time I saw this word in print, it was in Shakespeare, "A Midsummer Night's Dream:"

"AY, do, go on, persever..." Bard? Would you "give ARAP" to elaborate?

YAH! is what Jon Arbuckle yells when he's startled. Shame on you, Garfield.

Obscurities? Too MANY. Sorry, but for me, though I did finish it, the ambitious theme did not save it. And one more idiocy: "Amo, amas, I love_____-" well, if you want to make that rhyme, you have to say "A loss!" Either way, I never heard that little ditty, which deserves its obscurity. It's inane.

Thumbs--NOT impaling plums--down for this one. Should have gone back to the drawing board.

Ginger 1:49 PM  

Loved the theme, thought it was clever and helpful. If some pretty iffy fill is the price we pay then it's worth it.

SO RARE is now running through my head. It's a really lovely tune, recommend a listen.

DMGrandma 2:59 PM  

I actually finished this one. But, to quote Rex, it was an "ugly win". Finding the fruits helped some. Got it down to obscure author/sports figure crossing. Almost quit there, but decided TORRE seemed possible, and put it in. Question. Should a pure guess count as a win?

Ginger 4:32 PM  

@DMGrandma - YES - If you guess wrong, it's a DNF, so if you guess right, IMO it's a win! However, it's possible you had heard of Joe Torre anyway. He was in the broadcast booth for the Angels during the late 80's. As I remember, you're in SoCal and it's possible you heard of him at that time. So maybe your guess wasn't as random as you thought.

Dirigonzo 5:28 PM  

I only gave up on vOlARE when I remembered the SEGO lily from a recent puzzle - unfortunately I never changed the l, and SO RARE never appeared - DNF. I saw "The Bridge Over the River KWAI" at the drive-in theater with my parents when I was 11 or 12, so that was my first word to go into the grid. FRuiT became FROOT very late in the game when "iNRAMPS" seemed unlikely.

And I would like to add, so as to soothe any sensibilities that were offended by my remarks yesterday, that I found the prime-time comments to be very educational today; esoteric, maybe, but educational nontheless.

Catte 7:14 PM  

Got all the ugly, but none of the win. DNF (rare for a Wed.) because of the SW corner and never did get the theme until I came here. Very clever, now that I see it. However, when theme failure occurs (thankfully also rare)even a clever one means I have to admire the constructors cleverness, but don't get the zing of pride over my own.

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