El Al hub city / WED 2-13-13 / Pittsburgh radio station since 1920 said to be world's first / Zimbabwean strongman Robert / CNN's Barnett / Broadway title character who sings tea for two / Leftorium owner on Simpsons / Lineage-based women's org

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Constructor: Richard and Judith Martin

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: G.E.D. (44D: Many a H.S. dropout's goal ... and what's added to 17-, 25-, 36-, 51- and 60-Across)— "GED" is added to ordinary phrases, creating wacky phrases, clued "?"-style

Word of the Day: RACE WAR (20A: "The Turner Diaries" conflict) —

The Turner Diaries is a novel written in 1978 by William Luther Pierce (former leader of the white nationalist organization National Alliance) under thepseudonym "Andrew Macdonald".[1] The Turner Diaries depicts a violent revolution in the United States which leads to the overthrow of the United States federal governmentnuclear war, and, ultimately, to a race war leading to the extermination of all "impure" groups such as Jewsgay people, and non-whites.[2]The book was called "explicitly racist and anti-Semitic" by The New York Times and has been labeled a "bible of the racist right" by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The novel has been associated with a number of real-life violent crimes committed by white separatists and other radicals. Two pages of the book containing a scene depicting preparation for the bombing of the J. Edgar Hoover Building, the FBI national headquarters, were found in the getaway car of Timothy McVeigh, the perpetrator of the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. (wikipedia)
• • •

So, if you're playing along at home, the rules are: HITLER, no; RACE WAR, yes.

I briefly tried to get someone else to do the write-up tonight, as this puzzle (and the subsequent firestorm of social media bewilderment it inspired) really took it out of me. I don't have the energy to go into all the problems, nor the desire to be the Bad Guy / Bearer of Bad News / etc. But neither do I have any desire to lie about this puzzle, which is, in my very most generous assessment, grossly subpar. Every constructor / serious solver I've talked to tonight, *to a (wo)man*, has been baffled by this puzzle's deficiencies and stunned that it got published. Theme concept, theme execution, fill (dear lord), all are mystifyingly off target. To be as brief as possible—let's start with the revealer. Why is it ... there? Why is there absolutely nothing in the clue to give it any pop or life ... any justification for being. I mean, you could've at least tried to relate the clue phrase to what the base answers are literally doing, i.e. "getting" "earning" etc. a degree. Instead, it's just, "here's a random letter string, off to the east side of the grid for some reason ... tada?" Further, the altered +GED words are gruesome perversions of words in at least two cases, i.e. BADGED (!?) and VISAGED (!!??). There are so so so many words you can +GED, there's just Gotta be better, more natural-sounding words. I mean, MORTAL SINGED is better than some of these, and I just made that up. There's no consistency, no playfulness, no ear for the language at all in these morphed words. The bar was apparently set at "defensible" and no higher. Just ... ouch.

How about: [George Clooney, on "E.R."?] => RUGGED DOCTOR. Or [Got laid?] => BAGGED LADY. Before you say "that's offensive," let me remind you: RACE WAR.

Add in the deeply unpleasant RACE WAR and its clue, the highly and unnecessarily morbid clue on LET DIE (49D: Allow to expire) (geez, why not [Pull the plug on, as grandma]?), and the raft of terrible short fill (ITE IAM DAR BAHT ETE REW ATA ETA SRO LAH EMAJ DENEB ERROLS (!?) ADRAG etc.) Then add in the LOL/nutso crossing of LOD (41A: El Al hub city) and KDKA (38D: Pittsburgh radio station since 1920, said to be the world's first) (which I *guarantee* you is going to cause scores of spin-outs today). OMG I just saw the word SCARER, which I had forgotten about / blocked out of my memory in order to preserve my sanity (4D: Fun house worker, maybe). This is what happens when you a. don't use construction software and b. don't have much experience making puzzles. Given those circumstances, it's not a bad first effort. It's not an NYT-quality first effort, though, which is the problem. Please understand—I would not be this emphatic with you about the deficiencies of this puzzle if literally everyone I know in puzzledom weren't saying much the same thing (and worse, and more forcefully). This puzzle simply wasn't ready for prime time. Holding the line on puzzle quality is important.

OK, I'm done.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Senior softballers, e.g.? (THE AGED TEAM)
  • 25A: K-9 Corps member? (BADGED DOG)
  • 36A: Former first lady sporting a different outfit? (JACKIE CHANGED) (so ... there's an implied comma in this answer??)
  • 51A: Small-screen performance of "Hamlet," e.g.? (TV TRAGEDY) ("Which of these five is Not like the others? Which of these five just doesn't belong ...?")
  • 60A: King, queen or jack? (VISAGED CARD)

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


JFC 12:37 AM  

Now that's the kind of construction criticism I come here to read, Rex. I can't argue with you because I don't know enough but I found it awkward at times and strange. I did like those two long down answers though. And I have no idea what GED is, having not dropped out. I guess it was a good thought gone awry....


Anonymous 12:40 AM  

Agreed. This puzzle was just ridiculously horrid. I expect better.

jae 12:40 AM  

Very uneven in difficulty.  NW was tough but the rest was pretty easy except for the part where I DNF.  Knew neither the WOE radio station nor the WOE dog and guessed wrong (g). Fortunately, I knew LOD so only missed it by one square.   But given Rex's comments, now I don't feel so bad.

Not sure if KDKA/SALUKI qualifies as a Natick, but I'd be surprised if 1/4 of the solving public (outside of Pittsburgh) ever heard of the radio station.

Danny 12:41 AM  

So, where's all this crossworder hubbub? Any specific site where cruciverbalists go to vent about stinky puzzles?

Gill I. P. 12:43 AM  

Ouch for me too.
This took longer than my usual Wed. the ERROLS crossing ERIN was a DRAG. I got KDKA because I knew LOD and the beautiful SALUKI.
my "likes" were seeing ST BEDE sharing the corner with AVATA, SCARER sitting next to MUGABE and LET DIE staring at ERECTS.
Like NOT ALL THERE. My favorite euphamism is "a few french fries short of a happy meal."
NEW ECO WHO ASS...I miss DAVE Barry.

Anonymous 12:56 AM  

I for one (and perhaps the only one) found each of the theme answers delightful, and well worth the trouble!

The ONLY spot that bothered me was at LOD/KDKA. I got everything but the D.

Geez, you guys!!

Mike in DC 1:14 AM  

JACKIE CHANGED is hilarious. KDKA should be familiar to those of us who remember the good old days of radio, or who like listening to far away clear channel radio signals at night. (Heck, I'm not even 50 yet. Also, I grew up in LA. And even I remember that KDKA used to carry the Pittsburgh Pirates games.)

This wasn't the greatest puzzle ever, but it was hardly the train wreck that Rex describes.

Avatar Calculi Mugabes 1:49 AM  

Definitely in need a RETOOL, but, of course, not worth the vitriol directed at it.

It WAS odd that the reveal wasn't something sparkly about receiving a GED...and I kept wanting to rewrite every clue, which is unusual for me.

I knew SCARER would get attacked... and LO?/K?KA if you were unfamiliar with either Israel, radio or the Pirates is a crazy cross...

However, if everyone takes a deep breath,
THE AGED TEAM is funny and legitimate transformation of THE A TEAM,

However, BADGED DOG is sort of, like its cross, ADRAG.

But the puzzle had a little pop:
SMORES, NOT ALL THERE, SALUKI (A breed I only recently learned from walking the little mini greyhound-like dog my pal Gregory has)

My guess, if the Martins are first timers (is that the same Judith Martin aka Miss Manners?!) they clued "Bond film "Live and ______" not knowing about the arbitrary six letter partial rule.

But I have to like it bec NANETTE figures prominently! Nanette!!!! My therapist, guru, savior, favorite person on earth...
and the only person I've ever received unconditional love from.

(OK, I have to pay her...but still!)

chefwen 1:57 AM  

Maybe I need more training, but, I didn't have any problem with this one, in fact I actually liked it. Laughed at 17A THE AGED TEAM, perhaps because I'm on it. I'll read the write up a few more times and the light might come on, I may be NOT ALL THERE, as of now I'm in the PRO column.


chefwen 2:06 AM  

Andrea - I guess we were typing at the same time. Thank you for your input, I'm a little more clear on Rex's rage. Still shrugging my shoulders a wee bit.

Capcha - feefle - don't know what it means, but love it.

Anonymous 2:24 AM  

I'm shocked, shocked that so many posters are coming forward to defend this malformed freak show of a puzzle. I absolutely agree with Rex and his criticisms. The theme answers are pointless and unfunny, and crossing "LOD" (?) and "SALUKI" (??) with radio call letters that could be *anything* (sorry Pittsburghers, just cuz yinz know it don't make it right) is unconscionable, not to mention lazy. This puzzle should never have seen the light of day.

Anoa Bob 3:00 AM  

The theme didn't knock my socks off but I can see how others might appreciate it.

Again we have a definitive article THE in one of the theme entries, but not in the others. The base phrase A TEAM or the wackified phrase AGED TEAM would work just as well without it. For some, this is no big deal. I see it as gratuitous letter-count inflation to make one theme entry match another.

I think the grid design also was A DRAG on the puzzle's quality. Maybe those two long downs at 11D & 24D created too much congestion and hence way too many three-letter entries, a few WTF! LOD/KDKA crossings, and a generous sprinkling of crosswordese, like OREAD, YEGGS, EMAJ, et al.

Jack Lee 3:59 AM  

Honestly didn't think it was so bad, though I DNF because of LOD/KDKA. But, hey, I'm just a crossword newbie...

Anonymous 4:04 AM  

In Europe, you could pull off an old cstandby Mauna LOA crossing brazilian football star KAKA. Not sure if that would make answers more gettable in the US, though. Still, less of a Natick (LOA being more inferrable than LOD)?

Anonymous 4:04 AM  

My log goes back only to April 2010, but I haven't missed four letters on a Wednesday even once in that time - until today. I would expect the fail rate to be through the roof on this one. A couple of these crosses would be unfair on Saturday.

"Try to win" - CHEAT before COURT

"Ore suffix" - Wanted IDA before getting ITE. Ha!

Anonymous 4:05 AM  

My log goes back only to April 2010, but I haven't missed four letters on a Wednesday even once in that time - until today. I would expect the fail rate to be through the roof on this one. A couple of these crosses would be unfair on Saturday.

"Try to win" - CHEAT before COURT

"Ore suffix" - Wanted IDA before getting ITE. Ha!

Ellen S 5:05 AM  

Hand up for CheaT before COURT. Otherwise, well, I hate to be offended by a puzzle, but this one was pretty grim, with not much in the way of redeeming fill. I thought, "Oh, how nice, Robert Mugabe for a change instead of Idi Amin." But the clues and answers didn't provide much fun. RACE WAR? really?

Elle54 5:58 AM  

Heard a commercial on WLS radio yesterday for a GED prep class. Would never have listened to KDKA here in Chicago, so,yes, DNF with the D in LOD, my only error.

loren muse smith 6:00 AM  

Hard indeed for a Wednesday! Hand up for a dnf owing to the LOD/KDKA cross.

“B side” messed me up a bit, as did the certainty that the currency began with an R.

Didn’t know either of the CNN personalities in that cross, but I always get a kick out of two matching clues, as in those for WOOS and COURT.

I agree, this one didn’t GLITTER, but I am for some reason really entertained to see that “tray” can morph into TRAGEDY and “bad” can become BADGED. WHO KNEW?

Also liked NOT ALL THERE. @Gill I.P. – among the plethora of such phrases, a couple of my favorites are “his elevator doesn’t stop at every floor” and “she’s one sandwich short of a picnic.”

SALUKI was a gimme for me off only the L. I bet @retired_chemist nailed that one, too.

Mitzie 6:02 AM  

I actually liked the theme and didn't mind the theme entries as Rex did, with the exception of 51-Across, which was the only theme entry that broke a word into pieces rather than just adding GED to it (tray became traGEDy), which was inelegant.

But the fill...! Major dnf for me. STBEDE crossing BAHT and ETE, DENEB crossing EMAJ, LOD crossing KDKA, all of them got me.

RACE WAR...yeah, I guess I'm offended by seeing that in the puzzle. Not the term so much, but the clue. Then again, how else would you clue it?

Why the long non-theme down answers? Eliminate those, probably can clean up the fill a bit.

Didn't mind the bland revealer, either, except that I would expect a bland-revealer puzzle to be so otherwise sparkly that it would blow my mind.

@JFC, never heard of the GED? That's pretty unbelievable.

Michael Hanko 6:29 AM  

The DENEB/MUGABE crossing is pretty cruel as well. And IMO Salukis and Greyhounds have some similarities, but don't look *alike*. Any more than George Clooney and I look alike.

OTD 7:05 AM  

While I finished this one without an erasure and in almost record time, it was a weird experience from theme to fill. Agree with @Rex and all those who wondered why it was published at all, let alone in the NYT. Sorry, Martins, but you could have done better.

Knew about KDKA and got LOD from the downs.

Z 7:16 AM  

@Michael Hanko - I dunno - your AVATAR has a Clooneyesque quality to it.

DNF - guess where.

Nothing leapt out at me as particularly awful until the very end. Random Radio Call Signs make RRN look like high quality fill. I grew up listening to the Ernie Harwell announce Tiger games on WKZO, would not expect to see it in a puzzle. I have to agree with an earlier anonymouse, Brazilian soccer player KAKA crossing Mauna LOA would have been better. I also like the suggestion for ore-IDA over -ITE, the wrong answer has a little spark to it.

MUGABE crossing RACE WAR - I'm not offended so much as bewildered.

For those wondering, a quick google search suggests that Miss Manners husband is not Richard.

Oscar 7:23 AM  

This puzzle can suck my dictionary.

Glimmerglass 7:30 AM  

I agree with Andrea, Chefwen, and others. Didn't much like it -- didn't hate it. An inferior puzzle, but not a trainwreck. Don't often listen to NPR, but made a good guess on the common letter. Everyone my age remembers listening to KDKA.

Milford 7:33 AM  

DNF kind of Wednesday. Same problem areas other had, DANEB/ MUGABE, LOD/KDKA, but also ST. BEDE/BAHT. Liked PLASMAS (even though the plural is weird) and NOT ALL THERE.

RACE WAR was filled in by crosses mostly, and while I wasn't upset by it, the phrase just seemed clunky. But i dont know the book, nor did I realize it was a bit of a manifesto to terrorists and the like. The LET DIE entry was sadly clued. Had no idea that there is a 6-letter partial cutoff. But this puzzle had a lot I didn't know.

I actually liked THE AGED TEAM and the TV TRAGEDY theme entries, they made me laugh.

Milford 7:38 AM  

@Z - I would get the WKZO entry in a puzzle. But I won't hold my breathe. Drat.

Milford 7:39 AM  


webwinger 7:55 AM  

Having visited Pittsburgh to see my grandparents many times as a child (where KDKA—one of very few stations beginning with “K” east of the Mississippi—was an object of veneration), and having spent the better part of 1971-72 in Israel (just before LOD was renamed Ben Gurion Airport), that now notorious crossing was a personal gimme. Had no idea both names were so little known. Got SALUKI and BAHT from crosses to fill in the SW. Only had to google for EMAJ (unmusical and can never remember those keys, unfamiliar with DENEB). Finished with a fairly typical Wednesday time. Kinda liked the theme, and was surprised by the vitriol in Rex’s review, though I wouldn’t take exception to most of his points. Didn’t know about RACEWAR until now; can’t say I’m happy that has changed.

Evan 8:01 AM  

On RACE WAR -- I don't really mind it, or its clue, in the crossword. Maybe it's just the historian in me, but I think it's possible to separate one's personal feelings about a particular subject from one's view on that subject's historical importance. One need not agree with the ideologies behind RACE WAR to note its significance in history or its validity as an in-the-language phrase, and I don't see any evidence that the clue was endorsing the ideas in The Turner Diaries. As heinous as its content is, it was a highly influential book, and RACE WAR was its subject. The term RACE WAR may certainly evoke harrowing images of ethnic conflict, but the term doesn't strike me as offensive on its own like an ethnic slur would be -- of course, one could argue that maybe it would have been better to just clue it as "ethnic conflict," which the NYT did in March 2008.

It's for these reasons that I also wouldn't mind seeing HITLER in a grid. Yes, he did terrible things, but that doesn't change his significance as a historical figure. IDI AMIN did terrible things too, and we see him all the time. I understand why one might want to avoid cluing certain words in a grisly way if you have lots of other choices available, and yeah, maybe one shouldn't build a puzzle where all of the theme answers relate to, say, the KKK or Neo-Nazis. But I suppose I lean towards the "words are just words" camp in many respects -- one can have an entry in a puzzle that evokes dark memories or even offensive ideas without saying that the offensive ideas are okay.

(On a related note, I don't have much of a personal breakfast test, so I might be biased in more ways than simply being an up-and-coming historian. Bring on the R-rated language and grim stuff, I say. I'll solve it anyway.)

(On another related note, perhaps I'm more okay with RACE WAR now than I might have been some other time because I did just finish reading a book on another harrowing race-related subject -- Douglas Blackmon's Slavery By Another Name, which describes the convict leasing system between the 1860s and World War II in which tens of thousands of Southern African-American men were imprisoned and brutalized by white overseers and private corporations. Gave a big class presentation on the book last night, too.)

Evan 8:01 AM  

Having said all of that above, I still found today’s puzzle sorely lacking in many areas that Rex described pretty well. I liked THE AGED TEAM a lot, but I didn’t like those two theme answers with BADGED and VISAGED. JACKIE CHANGED is just awkward – you could have written it as JACKIE WHILE SHE’S WEARING NEW CLOTHES and it wouldn’t have made it any better or worse. There’s way, way too much short crap, not least in part because there are 31 (!) 3-letter words. The LOD/KDKA crossing is insane (it messed me up, too – I had LOA/KAKA), and the cross with SALUKI is hardly better (though I knew that one as the Southern Illinois mascot). And even though NOT ALL THERE is great, there are other long entries which are questionable at best – ERROLS? SCARER? LET DIE? CALCULI? PLASMAS (plural)?

Definitely not my favorite puzzle.

Peter 8:03 AM  

Classic Rex hissy fit. I always think the King of Crossword is happiest when he finds an inferior target to moan about. He must be really happy today because, as witnessed by his rant, he thinks this puzzle is a genuine clunker and he let us know about it.

I'll agree that this puzzle didn't put up much of fight, but it's a Wednesday so I did't expect much of a workout. However, I hardly think it deserves such a flogging. I can't agree that the cluing and answers are all atrocious. I know I'm not always going to get gourmet puzzles out of the NYT but then I don't have to do them everyday and blog about it.

joho 8:08 AM  

Well, let's see, it was nice to continue the CAB/CAR theme with the SPEEDOMETER on the DASH.

I failed with LOk/KkKa. Hmmm, KKKA is also offensive when I see it. I was thinking "K" as in WKRP. @Anon. 4:04, I would have loved the LOA gimme because I would have got KAKA ... even though he's even more obscure than KDKA.

Whether or not you think @Rex went too far with his criticism today at least you can agree that he's passionate about puzzles! That's why we all come here.

B Donohue 8:13 AM  

KDKA crossing SALUKI and LOD??

DENEB crossing EMAJ??

Are these Wednesday level clues? I felt inadequate after doing this puzzle (with multiple mistakes) last night, though was slightly reassured by Rex's post.

I agree with Rex's comments. RACEWAR shouldn't be there and the clue for GED is very uninspired.

jackj 8:13 AM  

It doesn’t happen often but, on rare occasions, there will be a puzzle that makes you wonder whether it offers potions or poisons; whether it deserves plaudits or brickbats and when the answer is both and the feeling is like being bitten by a BAD(ged)DOG, a SALUKI, actually, who is trying to snag your SMORES, well, it might be time for a long walk off a short pier or, at least, a NEW AVATAR.

And to think that despite having to deal with LOD and KDKA; ERIN and ERROLS; DENEB and MUGABE; CALCULI and SCARER; OREAD and ALEC, the one entry that caused me the most consternation was BSIDE, which stubbornly refused for the longest time to admit it could be flipped for the puzzle’s sake. Aaaargh!

The theme was well hidden until getting the reveal of GED and then it was Bob’s your uncle as the five theme entries EASED right in.

Most disliked of the theme entries was JACKIECHANGED and continuing the rampant confusion triggered by this puzzle, my favorite theme entry was JACKIECHANGED.

So, bottom line, the Martin’s puzzle put me in a quandary whereby I wondered if perchance I was NOTALLTHERE but the solution was clear, stop checking the SPEEDOMETER and take my hard earned GED over to join THEATEAM. What a relief!

Thanks to our clever co-constructors for muddling the mind to the point that the axons didn’t know if they belonged to the neuron crowd or the thyroid gang.

A fascinating change of pace!

blinker474 8:25 AM  

Thought it was sort of oddly clued here and there, but liked the theme and the theme answers. Got it done sort of quickly, and never imagined that the 'race war' answer would bother anyone.

John V 8:30 AM  

Knew KDKA as my roots extend to Ambridge, PA and the Pittsburgh suburbs. Medium here, too. That's all I got.

Off to Mexico tomorrow for a week or so. May have access to the puzzle, may not; ditto Rex World. Maybe see everyone anon.

Now off to San Miguel and Joseph Anton.

Susan McConnell 8:33 AM  

So glad Rex mentioned SCARER, which literally made me groan out loud. This puzzle feels like it was not edited at all. Like acme, I found myself wanting to rewrite clues all over the place....and I am not a crossword creator.

David 8:46 AM  

As an avid amateur astronomer, I liked seeing DENEB. It's the brightest star in the constellation Cygnus. On the other hand, I thought KNEW crossing NEW was lame.

MetaRex 8:48 AM  

I liked it. The solve was smooth by my not v. smooth standards. The theme came together for me with the final thematic answer VISAGED CARD. The combination of J, Q, and K = FACE CARD and J, Q, and K = VISAGED CARD clicked nicely in my verbal hindbrain.

What Evan said on RACE WAR and the hypothetical HITLER...

[Considerably] More at
A vote for Will's decision to publish

Kris in ABCA 8:57 AM  

I didn't find this to be the travesty that some others did - it was OK, though not great. I was born in Pittsburgh, though I only lived there a couple of years, so KDKA was something I knew. Some people have nova lox in their arsenals, others have KDKA - so it goes.

I was glad to see ERIN Burnett in the puzzle, as I quite like her.

Rob C 9:05 AM  

DNF because of the LOD/KDKA and ST BEDE/BAHT crossings. First word down was PLASMAS and my thought was the plural just doesn't sound right. That set the trend for the entire puzzle. SCARER, yuck.

As much as I hate the radio call letters, it is of some historical significance.

RACEWAR was cringe-worthy, but I didn't question it's legitimacy. There was a big deal made over the Turner Diaries a number of years ago.

All in all, I think the puzzle's biggest flaw is that the theme answers weren't very solid, as mentioned by others. Didn't think it was the complete disaster that some do.

FearlessKim 9:10 AM  

Easy -- typical Wednesday -- until the spectacular crash-and-burn at the intersection of LOD and KDKA. I'm with @Z on Random Radio Call Signs -- at least RRNs are gettable with an average primary school education, for those of us who aren't from PGH.

Ditto @Rex on the plethora of crosswordese, although thanks to fill like EMAJ I'm certainly learning a lot about key signatures! And thanks, @Anon 4:04 for IDA! beats tired old ITE in every way.

Cluing: 3D: "Barleywine" is a better revealer for ALE than the usual. 9D: liked "Use plastic" for CHARGE. Why not have clued 19A as "41A monitor info"? And like @LorenMuseSmith I liked the twinned clues for COURT and WOOS, although I'd have preferred non-synonymous answers... Also getting tired of using the movie to clue AVATAR: how about "Your blog entry companion" or some such? Constructors, what say you?

Liked CALCULI, MUGABE, and SALUKI. Loved MORTAL SINGED, although it didn't appear in the puzzle :) Also the sheer awfulness of "Pull the plug on, as grandma" -- way to make a point, @Rex!

@JFC, to answer your question: GED= General Education Development test, or a high school diploma equivalency exam.

Writeovers: Had Bside, the term in common use (back in the day, when dinosaurs like me roamed the earth) instead of SIDEB, like @LorenMuseSmith and @jackj and many others, I'm sure. Also tried Neon rather than AEON.

Thanks, @Evan, for two thoughtful posts.

-- FearlessKim

jberg 9:20 AM  

Dear Miss Manners just knows so many obscure words and facts. And who'd have dreamed that she'd read "The Turner Diaries?" And I love the way she reminded me of my childhood late-night radio listening with KDKA, and the shoutout to DENEB, so far as I know the only star to end with B.

It would be churlish to say more!

Anonymous 9:26 AM  

I was fortunate on this puzzle for a number of reasons: I live in PGH, am a bit of an astronomy buff, and my mother used to teach GED classes. This almost certainly would have been a DNF if DENEB, KDKA, and GED weren't gimmes for me. Regardless, it's hard to defend the choppy NE and SW, or the awkwardness of the NW (PLASMAS, CALCULI, SCARERS, SIDE B).

dk 9:30 AM  

Ahem! Yesterday was Tuesday.

Badges! Badges! We don't need no stinkin badges: Woof

Nuttin up my SLEEVE - No stars in the sky this morning.

orangeblossomspecial 9:31 AM  

Rex must be feeling the effects of late nights and early mornings. A recent NYT article pointed out the need for down time.

Paul McCartney evidently didn't have the same reservations about 49D as Rex did: 'Live and LET DIE'.

The Buckinghams had a nice song appropriate for 21D: 'Kind of A DRAG'.

Kryten 9:36 AM  

Slipped up on Lod. Was trying to come up with three-letter airport code for Tel Aviv, to no avail.
Saluki I was reminded only because of ongoing Westminster Dog Show (I don't really care much about dogs - I'm a cat person).
It was an awkward puzzle, but not enough experience to pinpoint why - thanks, Rex, for explaining.

Carola 9:41 AM  

I had cartoon-like question marks over my head quite a few times while solving, so especially appreciated your write-up today, @Rex. Knew LOD but was looking at a DNF at KD?A/ SALU?I - luckily guessed a K.

For a minute thought it might be BADGEr DOG - a "translation" of "dachshund" as well as an inadvertent nod to the Badger State.

Speaking of which, I think the clue for KDKA needs a qualifier, as WHA-AM at UW-Madison has been broadcasting continuously since 1917.

@Gill I.P. - Awesome pairs.

chefbea 9:41 AM  

I'm with the did not like group. Too many things I did not know...saluki, KDKA etc. Had Int for 1Down so couldn't get the northwest. Noticed the bleedover - speedometer/dash from yesterday.

The other day was peppermint patty day...so yesterday I made the best brownies in the world!!!!

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

I was never a fan of Oprah, but she did one great thing in her career. Following the custom of talk shows, she had a white supremecist group on her show once. The point was to give voice to all sides for the sake of fairness, and to perhaps show them the folly of their position. After the predictable fiasco, she realized that giving air time in the name of 'balance' was wrong. Not all sides deserve air time, some are just so patently wrong they deserved to be shunned. Argued against when they force themselves into the fore, but shunned.

RACEWAR falls into this category.

Cheech 10:09 AM  

@chefbea - Any 'special ingredients' in those brownies? I'm guessing there has to be, otherwise they're just ordinary. If so, please forward a batch to

Cheech Marin
East LA
Califonia 90210

OISK 10:11 AM  

Great puzzle !! Typical. I liked this puzzle a lot. No pop culture naticks, and while I never heard of Errol Barnett nor Erin Burnett, the "R" was pretty obvious. LOD is the airport one flies into if one flies to Israel, as I often have. The Saluki is the mascot of either Southern or Northern Illinois (can't remember which, but it is where Walt Frazier played) so that was no problem. I never heard of Aeon Flux either, but that was easy from the crosses. I know where to find Deneb ( a pretty bright star) in the sky, Mugabe - I have been to Zimbabwe - have heard of KDKA, no problem. And I loved the themed clues. Thanks for an enjoyable Wed. morning Martins! Rex and I are on completely different wave lengths, as usual.

baja 10:12 AM  

Not great, but not that bad either. No clue on KDKA but as a Canadian doing an American puzzle can't complain about regional clues. No idea about Deneb and Saluki but fair.

Passions aside I'm shocked and appalled how often people are shocked and appalled

Sandy K 10:21 AM  

Double-naticked on a Wednesday??
Did not get MUGAbE/D?NEb.
Did not get LOd/K?KA.

SCARER was a groan. Clues for ERIN and ERROLS had me thinking I was seeing double.

Agree for most part with Rex. Saving grace for this one: JACKIE CHANGED.

Notsofast 10:36 AM  

WOW! I couldn't disagree more with The Master. This was a terrific Wednesday to me. It was crisp, weird, sassy, funny and blessedly gives the finger to convention. Outstanding! A big ol' A!

chefbea 10:44 AM  

@cheech and anyone else..e-mail me and I'll send you the recipe!!!

Masked and Anonymo2Us 10:45 AM  

Ruff! Finally whittled it down to two blank squares. Guessed good on (B)AHT. Guessed not so good (ged?) on K(a)KA. Liked the way the puz opened up with lots of cryptic clues and longish words. SCARER/MUGABE crossin' CALCULI/themer/RACEWAR/DENEB. Yowch. That'll weed out the riffraff.

Fave fillins: NOTALLTHERE. A reference to the palpable sparseness of U-count. KNEW/NEW. Especially when flanked by WHO/WOOS. ADRAG. Better clue = [Scott Joplin tune used in a TV commercial?].

The Martins had a SunPuz back in '02 which substituted U's for O's in all the themers. Man, now That's coffee! Today was pretty pfchunky stuff. To wit: When 31 wants to find a sub, because he doesn't like the cut of a puz's jib, that's historic. Somehow, that makes me wanna give this little puz a hUg. Kinda like BOSTONPUPS.

lawprof 10:50 AM  

I really deserved a DNF because of the LOD/KDKA and STBEDE/BAHT crossings, but I guessed right on both of them.

On the other hand, as an amateur astronomer/musician (shucks, I'm an amateur at a lot of things), the DENEB/EMAJ crossing was a gimme.

Wanted whippet, which didn't fit, before saluki.

As long as there are bad puzzles, Rex will never need Viagra.

Cheech 10:56 AM  

@Chefbea - Let me be clearer. Is there a shitload of marijuana in the brownies? If so, please send me some. If not, they're not "the world's best brownies".

Affenpinscher aus Affalterbach 11:30 AM  


Northern Illinois is Huskies, Southern Illinois is Salukis. Music for Carbondale Community High School fight song borrowed from "On Wisconsin."

Puzzle so-so. Slow going, especially in the NW, until theme became clear, then zipped along with the speedo at 85.

JFC 12:03 PM  

Southern Illinois is trhe Salukis, probably because SIU is in Carbondale which is the part of southern Illinois that is referred to as Little Egypt (Cairo, IL) and the dog was that favorite of the Pharoahs.

Now if someone will educate me about GED...


mrbreen 12:12 PM  

Hey, I got a great idea for a theme. Let's take an overused acronym like GED and build an entire F'ing puzzle around it.

Good god this was terrible.

Awkward fill to boot. That SW corner has no business being in a Weds. puzzle, let alone any puzzle.

Solving this reminds me why I no longer do my local paper's syndicated puzzle.

Askhouda 12:19 PM  

I had no problem solving this puzzle, I agree with Rex's criticisms. It just felt like this puzzle was an almost amateur effort.

Janet 12:40 PM  

Failed miserably on this puzzle - but glad to see from the comments that I am not alone!

Like @Gill I.P.; @loren muse smith, got a big chuckle out of NOT ALL THERE. Down-under we also have a couple of euphemisms for this:
"A few chop short of a barbie"
"He's got kangaroos in the top paddock"
"A beer short of a six-pack"

Anonymous 12:44 PM  

Not bad for me for a Wednesday. Finished with no errors, so i didn't hate it. When Rex vents all his ire at the constructor, however much it is warranted, I wonder where the editor comes in. I have not been a fan of the Shortz era, even though he's apparently a great table tennis player. If it's the constructor's first puzzle in the NYT, shouldn't Will Shortz shoulder some of the responsibility (and some of Rex's criticism)?

LaneB 1:07 PM  

Plodded steadily through except for the intersection of 8d and 25a. Had all the letters except the "D" in BADGED and OREAD. Finally figured it could only be a D and went away happy. Good speed for a "medium".

Masged and Agednonymous 1:10 PM  

@31: About using construction software: don't know much about all that, but sounds intriguing. Does the software have these all-important settings...

1. Maximize U-count?
2. Minimize solver pain?
3. Non-random Roman numerals only?
4. Show what Patrick Berry would do?
5. Show what Patrick Berry would sooner retire from the sport than ever do? (Now I'd pay some bucks to see that. har.)
6. Insert memorable entry here.
7. Double pangram.

If the state of the art has advanced to that level, sign me up. I'll be sendin' the Shortmeister my first masterpiece by sundown. What's firstclass postage, nowadays?

syndy 1:17 PM  

Hand up for wanting BADGErDOG!I was unfamiliar with the Turner Diaries so that answer purplexed me more than anything.While RACEWAR is not a pleasant entry,it's clue is the real obscenity and I always blame Will.The theme answer clunked rather than rang and LOD/KDKA is classic natick;but I was surprised by the vigour of rex's rant but the heart hates what the heart hates!

Lewis 1:17 PM  

Everyone is talking like Rex went all out against the Martins. My impression was that he was holding back, that he could have been more cruel and fought against it. That he actually showed some restraint.

I did not like the random radio station, or SCARER, or the star (how many stars do we need to know as solvers, I wonder?). But I did like the theme answers in general, and knowing GED helped me get some of them.

I think better cluing would have made this puzzle more interesting.

Rob C 1:22 PM  

Whether you agree with him or not, Rex is certainly holding the editor responsible - "This puzzle simply wasn't ready for prime time. Holding the line on puzzle quality is important." Who else makes those decisions?

Thick Skinned 1:24 PM  

Bad people frequently enough make it into crosswords. Idi Amin (as noted above). Nero. Pontius Pilate (who Christians believe ordered the crucifixion of God). I seem to recall Mussolini showing up as his nickname Il Duce. Hitler was and still is a figure commonly depicted (always as a mad despot) in loads of movies. If people don't get upset watching him on the screen, what is the problem with seeing his name in a crossword grid? Why should we not be reminded of the evil that we must never forget lest it recurs?

But the point is this: names are just names and tags are just tags. Using them in a puzzle neither glorifies them nor endorses them. If BIGOTRY is OK for a puzzle, I don't know why RACE WAR is such a problem.

Certainly words that are intended to be cruelly derisive and offensive do not belong in a puzzle. The "n" word referrubg to Afro-Americans should not appear in a puzzle (even though it commonly and frequently used by rap stars). But as brutal dictators should IDI or MAO be forbidden because of the number of people they killed? And I don't think CHE was nice to all the people he met.

About the theme. Seems many did not like it and based upon their own preferences think the theme should not have been accepted. To them I say that based on the comments above, others enjoyed the theme. I did myself. I found it no better or worse than much of the wordplay found in many of the puzzles. The justification to publish this puzzle theme is simple: while some did not like it, others enjoyed it. It's good that Shortz published a wide variety of puzzles for all tastes.

And we know Shortz does reclue entries, so I would take it easy on the constructors about their cluing unless you know for sure that Shortz is not the real person responsible.

M and A's Last Silver Kdka 1:33 PM  

p.s. Meant Shortzmeizterz.
Also, forgot to wish for
Setting 8. Non-Roman random numerals only?
Setting 9. Make it so good that the Shortzmeister insists on paying $295 for it (non-SunPuz)
Setting 10. While yer at it, dream up the themers.
Setting 11. Include UNITER somewhere.
Setting 12. Dude. Write up the clues. (Hallelujah, I'm a bum.)

chefbea 1:39 PM  

@M and A

Setting 13 - Try to include beets in the puzzles. (hasn't been done in a while)

Bird 1:41 PM  

I didn’t hate this puzzle more than @Rex. I didn’t have as much a problem with the theme or its execution – not perfect but good enough. I enjoyed the long downs, but not so much the singular SKI or the ugly SCARER (which was originally BARKER).

Naticked at the crossing of 45A and 38D. Didn’t know the dog and how is there not a P in the radio station’s call-sign? If I hadn’t seen LOD somewhere recently (news?) that section would have been a complete wreck.

Happy Humpday!

From Whom It May Concern 1:47 PM  

@chefbea: Yep. Duly noted. Beets on/off setting.


Ellen S 1:56 PM  

Count me in for SALUKI being a gimme, though I'm sure none of us would never mistake one for a Greyhound (they're more like Afghan hounds with less fur). But for me, BAHT was also a gimme -- learn it folks, it's like "mine entrance" or "sea eagle". I started seeing this Thai currency about four years ago and it shows up regularly since.

@Lewis, you need to know all the stars, including ones that aren't. I once was stuck for hours on a clue "Dog Star" with a four letter answer. How to cram "Sirius" into four letters? Is it a rebus? Finally, the head-slap moment: ASTA.

I got LOD/KDKA right but the "D" was a pure guess. @Evan, I was thinking KAKA as well, but figured when radio was new, the first station wasn't going to name itself something disrespectful.

M&A, I like your specs for the constructing software. I think it can be done. I used to have some friends worked in electronic fabricating plants before they all moved to the Far East. They described machines where you just dump all the ingredients in a big hopper and turn it on and in a few hours it spits out a box of chips. I think they left out a bunch of steps, but I imagine it for your machine: dump in the alphabet, with some extra E's, and as many U's as you like, flip the switch and out comes your puzzle.

Anonymous 2:02 PM  

I found the puzzle fairly easy (9:11), didn't dislike it nearly as much as Rex did. Maybe being in the Midwest helped for once.

Doc John 2:05 PM  

Yeah, what Rex said.
I was also wondering if this was Miss Manners but I guess she has too much class to put out a puzzle such as this.
I think SALUKI was much more of a Natick then LOD. At least LOD has had some play before.
BAHT was a gimme for me but I guess it wasn't for everyone. DENEB has also been in the puzzle enough to be familiar.
Have I mentioned my dislike for Capcha?

Charley 2:09 PM  

My only problem with the puzzle has nothing to do with the theme. It's the use of a racist tome as a clue.

Kristin 2:27 PM  

They could have *clued* RACE WAR less offensively. I didn't mind the answer but The Turner Diaries was supposed to have been Timothy McVeigh's favorite book...inspiration for blowing up little children. There are sickos who take it seriously even if most people don't.

BADGED DOG was the only *really* awful theme answer.

We used to have a dog that was (we thought) part Saluki.. So I liked that.

Sparky 2:44 PM  

Natickd at MUGABE and DENEB. Hand up for CheaT before COURT. Was thinking of "The Confessions of Nat Turner" by William Styron but even so found the answer peculiar.

I think yesterday had more crosswordese.

Rex's reaction heartfelt and instructive. Evan's also illuminating. That's why I come back to the blog.

Nameless 2:50 PM  

Gotta wonder if any puzzles, except his own, would get published if Rex were the editor.

Anonymous 3:17 PM  

KDKA is a random radio station that happens to lay claim to be the first commercial radio station in the world.


sanfranman59 3:18 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 13:01, 11:52, 1.10, 73%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Wed 7:44, 6:34, 1.18, 88%, Challenging

I'm not sure what it says about my crossword-solving skills that I had one of my best performances ever on a puzzle that Rex calls one of the worst ever. At last check, I sit at 31st on the leader board. Hmmm.

evil doug 3:26 PM  

Well, we've allowed our old friend Ghostface Killah to grace our puzzle in the recent past, and I don't remember a big brouhaha over his presence. So I'm not too taken aback by 'race war' after enjoying some of GK's lyrics. I wonder: If he constructed a puzzle with the N word, would that be okay?

X-rated ahead---parental guidance or tightly closed eyes recommended....

Frontin' on the pussy, you can throw the dick in your mouth
Straight cock, we in the halls, yo there's other twat
In Trife room, where them other hoe bitches flock
Wigs got it popping, Du-Lilz went bird shopping
He got bird seeds, he's probably getting head whopping
Fucking with you, yo I hope you ain't cock blocking
I want some pussy now, if not, you can get to hopping
Bounce, muthafuckas talking about you ain't giving up no pussy
[Intro: Ghostface Killah]
Oh shit, look at them, they running on foot
They picked the car up, they on some Flintstone shit
Oh shit... and them niggaz stuck together
On some Siamese shit... yo

If you're going to be offended by today's puzzle---other than the fact that it truly sucked in the aesthetic quality sense---then you better be consistent and equally vocal with Idi, Il Duce, Ghostface, and all the rest. Me? It's just words....


JFC 3:43 PM  

ED is a tough act to follow but I did want to thank Kim for GED, which I had overlooked before.

How does one get a GED? I hope taking orals about ghostface is not a prerequisite....


Sandy K 4:04 PM  


Your SEVEN SOFTWARE SETTINGS had me LOL- fUnny and so trU!

Maybe Letterman needs to hire U to write his Top Ten Lists!

Anonymous 4:06 PM  

Maybe if the GED had been dropped out instead of in...

People. Newer constructors are held to a different standard. That's how the talent pool increases. Take a deep breath.

My first puzzle was accepted after 7 rejections. I almost gave up after 3. And I deserved to be rejected 7 more times.

Joe DiP

/leaving algae in your talent pool since 1995

Ellen S 4:18 PM  

@JFC, google "how to get a GED in [fill in your state]". Someone close to me is working on getting his. It's not exactly the same as a high school equivalency, by the way. I think I read once that the GED is recognized nationally, but HS equivalency is not, but one website I just found which offers HS Equiv. says the latter is better for your resume, as employers will just read "HS" and move on, where if they see "GED" they'll say, why did you drop out; you are such a bum. (Hallelujah.) But they also brag that you can take their test online, not at a testing center, so it's an open-book test. Community Colleges offer GED classes. I've seen the material; I graduated from HS with a commendable GPA and have a college degree and I'm not sure I could pass the GED at this point.

John V 4:22 PM  

Just to say ... forgot earlier ... that RACEWAR, to me, are just words. I'm more offended by THE AGED TEAM; I resemble that remark.

RACEWAR is bad, MIDASSTOUCH is okay? Really?

Evan 5:12 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Evan 5:13 PM  


"They could have *clued* RACE WAR less offensively. I didn't mind the answer but The Turner Diaries was supposed to have been Timothy McVeigh's favorite book...inspiration for blowing up little children. There are sickos who take it seriously even if most people don't."

There are all sorts of controversial things that might show up in a crossword puzzle that you could claim would be equivalent to, if not worse than, "inspiration" for doing terrible things. There are lots of entries that could be associated in whatever way with offensive ideas. But does that mean one should never see them in a puzzle?

For example, Richard Wagner was reputed to be Hitler's favorite composer, and perhaps was inspired as a young man by Wagner's own anti-Semitic writings and compositions that arguably contain racist messages (i.e. Parsifal). Should references to Wagner's operas be off-limits to NYT crossword clues?

Or, forget about entries/clues that might serve as "inspiration" for people to commit crimes -- what about references to people who have actually committed terrible crimes, like IDI AMIN? What about weapons and machines that people have used to commit atrocities, like UBOAT and UZI or, hey, even GUNS? Should those be off-limits in the clues too?

I'm not saying it's wrong to feel the way you do about The Turner Diaries -- of course it's a racist book. It's one thing to say that the subject matter is offensive to you, that it made you cringe, etc. It's another thing to say that it's so taboo that it should never appear in a puzzle clue. As others said above, a reference to something offensive is not the same thing as endorsing it. Where does one draw the line?

Gill I. P. 5:23 PM  

I think this puzzle has brought out the bestest comments in a while.
@Joe Dep...You've earned your alae and I believe they are well deserved.
I'm sure you felt some pain after 7 rejections but it didn't estop you did it?

John in Philly 5:30 PM  

Of course I noticed at KDKA and saluki. But the one that really got me was "let die." Once I visited a friend in the hospital and upon entry to the ward was told, "He just expired." Really? like a parking meter? Cruelest thing I've ever heard. Lots of dark stuff in this puzzle....

Sfingi 5:43 PM  

When I do a NYT puzzle I don't like, I'm always afraid Res will praise it and say it was easy.

Things I never heard of: KDKA, SALUKI, The Turner Diaries, 2 CNN anchors with similar names: ERROL Barnett and ERIN Burnett, and that BEDE was a saint.

Does anyone know why Pope Leo XIII canonized BEDE? Writing cramps?

Was almost KaKA. Except SMORES and JACKIE CHAN GED.

Did know GED since I spent 17 years teaching to it.

Anonymous 5:51 PM  

I didn't hate this puzzle, and still don't get the vitriol after reading the comments. Maybe it's because I knew "KDKA Pittsburgh"

Chris Kearin 7:29 PM  

BADGED DOG is wretched, pure and simple, and it's a B SIDE, not a SIDE B. The Turner Diaries clue just added to the unpleasantness.

I was sure the other dog was a BORZOI.

Nameless 7:40 PM  

ST. PETE vs. ST. BEDE, PAHT vs. BAHT and TAR vs. DAR are three very, very cruel crossings for a Wednesday.

More crud in a cruddy puzzle.

Two Ponies 7:49 PM  

@ Evil Doug, Thanks (sort of) for the lyrics, if you can call it that. Just reconfirms my hatred of rap "music".
@ Evan, Great post. Where do you draw the line? You don't. History cannot be rewritten at one's convenience or cringe factor.

Davis 8:07 PM  

Mark me down as another "dislike" for this puzzle.

As far as the RACE WAR clue goes, using The Turner Diaries as part of the clue means treating that book as a piece of legitimate trivia. Whereas I'd say that the fewer people who know of it, the better.

The KDKA/SALUKI area was a definite Natick. KDKA and SALUKI are both pretty darn specialized bits of knowledge, and are far too rare to qualify as crosswordese. So if you're a solver who doesn't follow dogs or have Pgh connections in your life, and you're sitting on KD?A and SALU?I, you're basically SOL.

Z 8:13 PM  

@M&A - #14 - Non-numeral Random Romans.

Great comments, today. And I do think Rex was speaking about the choice to publish this puzzle in the NYT more than about the constructor. Why do I think this? Because, "Given those circumstances, it's not a bad first effort. It's not an NYT-quality first effort, though, which is the problem."

Tita 8:43 PM  

Maybe @Rex was ironically mirroring the vitriol in the book.

Liked what everyone liked, hated what everyone hated.

No chance on LO_ and that radio station.
Wondered if it was a dog theme for a moment, in honor of the Westminster show, with SALUKI and that awkward BADGEDDOG.

Guess I'm lucky that SALUKI and DENEB were gimmes or woulda been a worse DNF.

@Evan - good point re: IDIAMIN...

@M&A - priceless!

sean 9:44 PM  

One letter left at lod/kdrk. Pisser! bad Will Shortz! Bad man!

sanfranman59 10:22 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 6:43, 6:08, 1.10, 86%, Challenging
Tue 7:07, 8:28, 0.84, 8%, Easy
Wed 13:03, 11:52, 1.10, 73%, Medium-Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:59, 3:40, 1.09, 84%, Challenging
Tue 4:25, 4:54, 0.90, 13%, Easy
Wed 7:27, 6:34, 1.13, 83%, Challenging

Only 3 other Wednesdays have had fewer online solvers than today's puzzle (of the 175 in my spreadsheet). So the All Solvers rating is probably an underestimate of the difficulty.

Anonymous 11:00 PM  

"Where do you draw the line? You don't"

Of course you do. We do it all the time. We cuss like drunken sailors in bars, we speak genteely in church (should we go there). We dress appropriately at work, we wear 30 year old t-shirts around the house that we picked up the summer we followed the Dead tour .

If your view of puzzles is that it's a place where we can cuss like sailors and wear our Dead t-shirts, fine. Others don't view the NYT XWord puzzle the same way. All that's fine, just don't say we don't draw lines.

James 11:04 AM  

My local paper had the syndicated puzzle with the wrong clues or the wrong grid.I had to solve this as a diagramless.

Spacecraft 11:10 AM  

OFL threw out a baby or two with the bathwater (admittedly, that water was gross!). But a little forgiveness for a few really fine entries: SMORES (yum!), SALUKI, NOTALLTHERE. And trust me. No way this is THAT Judith Martin.

Back to the drawing board, guys.

And here we go with more illegible captchas (sigh). Only six this time.

DMGrandma 2:20 PM  

Struggled a bit until I got the GED connection which really helped with the strange theme answers. Alas, I also missed the (in)famous D, when I shouldn't have. My Dad grew up in Pittsburgh and used to tell boyhood stories (pre WWI) of listening on a crystal "set" with something he called a cat's whisker. Remember the story, knew I had heard of the station many times, but could I dredge it up when needed? Sadly no. Thought of @Diri when I plugged in DENEB.

Dirigonzo 5:00 PM  

I took a couple of days of from puzzle solving and let PP tackle the M-T puzzles on her own, so maybe I am just rusty but I struggled with this. However, I know nothing about "The Turner Diaries" or the conflict involved so I avoided the whole RACEWAR unpleasantness by entering RosEWAR which I apparently obtained from some incomplete recollection of the War of the Roses. The puzzle didn't seem like standard Wednesday fare, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

@DMG - Thanks for thinking of me at the astronomical entry in the grid. I'll think of you as I toast the full moon next Wednesday.

Waxy in Montreal 5:06 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Waxy in Montreal 5:07 PM  

KDKA no problem as I too listened to Pirate games on it - during the 50's and especially 1960, the year of their totally unexpected World Series win over the Yankees. Also familiar with KDKA because local (now defunct) radio station CFCF also claimed to be the world's first.

Until today, had never heard of S'MORES so was naticked at its cross with DSL and only also managed to solve SALUKI via its crosses.

Actually thought the theme was quite clever for a Wednesday. However, not so fond of much of the fill as others have previously mentioned.

And welcome to spring, fellow citizens of SynCity. (We were greeted up here with 33 cm.(13") of new snow!)

Solving in Seattle 6:01 PM  

Agree with @Rex that this puzzle lacked pop. The GED theme was blah. I didn't read the real timer's comments but wonder if anyone mentioned the RACEWAR/MUGABE cross. I did like the shout-out to ERIN Burnett - such a sweetheart. Still miss her with Mark Haines on CNBC. @DMG, I might have become a amateur astronomer if I didn't live in Seattle.

strayling 7:51 PM  

Deneb is a pretty star which doesn't deserve to be in such an ugly puzzle.

Dirigonzo 8:44 PM  

@SiS - I too find myself skipping over the prime time comments (especially when they number more than 100) to get to the Syndi-comments, but I read enough of them today to assure you that RACEWAR/MUGABE did not go unnoticed.

It seems another Seattle-ite has joined the SynCity community - welcome @strayling, it's good to have you with us.

@Waxy - The foot of new snow that fell here last night had melted down to only a few inches by this afternoon. I love Spring!

Anonymous 6:11 AM  

Which stars do you need to know to be a solver? Let's see...
1. Deneb (supposed to be Arabic for "tail," and yes, it is in the hindquarters of Cygnus)
2. Rigel. Because "Betelgeuse" and "Bellatrix" are just too long.
3. Sirius, of course.
Hold it! (or should I say, OHOHOH!) They're all blue-white stars! Racial bias in the NYT! No wonder RACEWAR made the cut.

I am not making this up, as Dave Barry would say.

strayling 8:18 PM  

Thanks for the welcome. I'm much more at home with the English cryptics so learning to solve these puzzles often seems like an Americana quiz to me. I'm enjoying the learning experience.

Anonymous 7:50 AM  

I guess I'm the only one who confused saluki with salumi? Just shows how little I know about either.

Sunam 12:19 AM  

I'm far from advanced in my ability to solve these puzzles, but I usually enjoy them. I'm a NYT crossword elitist because I like the rules and order. This puzzle made me cranky, so I ventured online to see if I was alone. Thank you, Rex, for echoing my sentiments. Brought a smile to my face!

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