Rum named for Spanish literary hero / WED 3-20-13 / Looney Tunes animator Freleng / Rihanna's record label / Genre pioneered by Miles Davis / Zodiac borders / He wrote Capital is dead labor

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Constructor: Raymond C. Young

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: FOUR (25A: Minimum number of times each letter of the alphabet appears in this puzzle's solution) — what it says

Word of the Day: FRIZ Freleng (58A: Looney Tunes animator ___ Freleng) —

Isadore "Friz" Freleng (August 21, 1905 – May 26, 1995), sometimes credited as I. Freleng, was an American animatorcartoonistdirector, and producer best known for his work on the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series of cartoons from Warner Bros.
He introduced and/or developed several of the studio's biggest stars, including Bugs BunnyPorky PigTweety BirdSylvester the catYosemite Sam (to whom he was said to bear more than a passing resemblance) and Speedy Gonzales. The senior director at Warners' Termite Terracestudio, Freleng directed more cartoons than any other director in the studio (a total of 266), and is also the most honored of the Warner directors, having won four Academy Awards. After Warners shut down the animation studio in 1963, Freleng and business partner David H. DePatie founded DePatie-Freleng Enterprises, which produced cartoons (notably The Pink Panther Show), feature film title sequences, and Saturday morning cartoons through the early 1980s.
The nickname "Friz" came from his friend Hugh Harman, who initially nicknamed him "Congressman Frizby" after a fictional senator that was in articles in the Los Angeles Examiner. Over time this shortened to "Friz". (wikipedia)
• • •

Felt pretty easy to me, but I can tell from the times posted at the NYX site that my experience was not the norm. Even with 15-20 seconds of hunting down a stupid typo (somehow in changing YELPS to YAWPS I ended up with the nonsensical YAWOS), I finished under 5. And I finished first. Very weird to see my name on the leaderboard at #1 (for a minute or so) with no other names up there. Anyway, I think this will play harder-than-average for most folks, though maybe not Much harder. The hardness is located mainly in the (unfortunate) preponderance of proper nouns of the nutty-spelling variety. Your FRIZes and your DONQs (!?) (41D: Rum named for a Spanish literary hero) and your WOMACKs and your KYSERs and what not. My biggest slow-ups were ... just getting out of the NW corner (both THE DEVIL and OP-ED PAGE took me forEver to see), and then LAYOVERS for LAYS OVER (9D: Stops for a while in the course of a journey), and then ... I don't know, the rest was pretty easy. High value Scrabble letters tend to make words jump out pretty quickly. Just the "Q" got me all of KUMQUATS, for instance. I didn't know XXXIX, but somehow I don't feel too bad about that. And while we're on that answer—it's one big reason I'm not as impressed with this "theme" as I might be. I mean, if all of your Xs are coming in one Random Roman Numeral, then what's the point? Feels a bit like a cop-out. On the other hand, as 78-word themelesses go (and they never go anywhere, i.e. you'll Never see a themeless in the NYX over 72 words), this was pretty entertaining. I learned that CAVE BAT is a thing (29A: Upside-down-sleeping mammal). I know BATCAVE was a thing, but now ... CAVE BAT! And while, yes, the pressure to cram in Qs gets you junky stuff like SEQS crossing QTRS, it also livens up a grid that (with so much short fill) would in most other thematic circumstances be pretty pedestrian. JONQUILS (50A: Yellow blooms) crossing KUMQUATS (38D: Orange fruits) is a thing of beauty, and I mostly had fun filling this one in, so, as stunt puzzles go—a tepid thumbs-up.


  • 47A: Rihanna's record label (DEF JAM) — I like the musical perpendicularity of this answer and NUJAZZ (43D: Genre pioneered by Miles Davis). I also just like the placement of this "J." "J" is almost always in initial position in at least one of its crosses; not here.
  • 29D: Zodiac borders (CUSPS) — not sure how to take "borders" at first. I was imagining the dividing lines on some kind of zodiacal chart...
  • 37D: He wrote "Capital is dead labor" (KARL MARX) — kind of obvious from the quote. His full name looks great in the grid. 
  • 25D: Clotho and sisters (FATES) — "Clotho" sounds like a slovenly clown. There have been several times when I could've used it in one of my grids, but each time I end up feeling too sad and cutting it out.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


webwinger 7:21 AM  

I’m impressed! After echoing Rex in dissing the pangram concept last week, find today’s puzzle a fine show of constructor virtuosity. Solved pretty steadily from the top down (no googling, exactly average Wednesday time of 20 minutes). Suspected something was afoot when I got to SEQS (worst word in the grid). Gasped (EEKS!) when Mr. Young tipped his hand in the fifth row (FOUR!—fore!—look out!) Then got caught up in the rush of Js and Ks and Qs, kind of the crossword equivalent of a roller coaster ride, ending with the whoosh of Zs and Xs near the bottom, including the mother of all RRNs. Good words aplenty among the answers (JILT, nice partial in WHOLL, OPEDPAGE, SQUISH, AGAVES—all in the top third!) Wish CAVEBAT could have been Bat Cave, but that’s caviling…

Happy spring, Rexites! Here in the Windy City it’s a nippy 21 degrees Fahrenheit now, but the sun will rise on schedule in the due east (not ENE, not ESE!) over lake Michigan in exactly 33 minutes. I’ve enjoyed for many years, and you as crossword enthusiasts and rectilinearists should appreciate, a phenomenon which will occur this evening in the city canyons around my home and those of similarly fortunate urban dwellers: Setting sun in the due west sends beams blasting down the E-W channels of Chicago’s awesomely regular street grid, casting beautifully LONG shadows everywhere, and illuminating Grant Park with light shafts that you can see extending all the way out onto the lake if you get up high to watch from over Michigan Avenue near the Loop. (In case of unfavorable weather, a close approximation can be experienced for a few days after the equinox.) If you live in Manhattan, unfortunately you are out of luck—grid there is not true E-W/N-S; its comparable effect occurred on an astronomically meaningless date a few weeks ago, if I’m not mistaken.

evil doug 7:35 AM  

If nothing else, this puzzle will serve to mute the tedious, "And, it's a pangram!" malarky---and especially the absurd, "Wow! Within TWO LETTERS--f and q---of being a DOUBLE pangram!!!!" goofiness we suffered the other day.

For that, I am eternally grateful.


MetaRex 7:37 AM  

Phew on Rex's emergence from the bat cave in the nick of time to save the day for all of us...

Semi-grumpy reflections on the quad pan at XXIX

jae 7:40 AM  

Easy Wed. for me with a bunch of strange stuff...SEQS, OHOH, XXXIX, DONQ, WHOLL,TAZO, YAWPS...which is apparently necessary to pull off a quad pangram in a 15x15 grid.  That said, I liked it because of the zippy stuff...FUTZ, THE DEVIL, DEF JAM, A TIT, JOJO (also Bart's middle name), KARLMARX...that came with the odd stuff.

Only erasure was P to Z in AGAZE.  NO WOEs.

So, was this a deliberate "in your face" to Rex or not...?

Apparently not...

he also liked the 2010 Peter Wentz's Thurs. 16 x 15 puzzle with the QUADRUPLE  PANGRAM revealer.

Then there's  Matt Gaffney's Wentz inspired attempt to do a quint pangram last December on BEQ's site which came up a few letters comment by Rex on that one, but the whole idea made me smile...

Unknown 7:42 AM  

A quadruple panagram, wow, I thought Rex's head was going to explode. Are they makeing medication for panagrams these days?

When I caught on to the theme, I looked back at what I had completed already and it looked pretty solid. However, like Rex said, the Super Bowl answer to get ALL of the Xs cheapened it a bit. But, still impressive.

Is the abbrev. for sequel legit? Can any word have an abbreviation if you just stop writing and add a period?

@Rex - observations on Clotho are hilarious.

Anonymous 7:42 AM  

Pretty easy Weds--not my fastest Weds but up there, put me 71st out of 3000 or so on migmac app.

FearlessKim 8:03 AM  

1A: No idea yet what's to come, just enjoying a puzzle that begins with a J. And then the lovely cascade of consonants -- so many excellent words:

The price we paid -- lots of abbrevs., lots of proper names that may cause an unreasonable number of personal Naticks, the Roman-est of Roman numerals (looks good there on the bottom of the grid, tho) -- was not too high, IMHO.

One small comment: cluing overall was a bit schizophrenic, ranging from a Monday-level 51D "Slanty type" for ITAL to a late-week-level 50D "___ d'esprit" for JEUX. Could be some rough sailing for early-week solvers.

Thanks, @webwinger, for the portrait of Chicago on the equinox. Got me looking outside and enjoying the bright sunshine here in VA. And thanks, Mr. Young, for a very nice puzzle.

GILL I. 8:07 AM  

I too thought a head might explode....Cute, fun puzzle that I sailed through. Didn't know WOMACK or FRIZ but easily gettable.
OK is it FUTZ or putz??? I'm so confused.
JONQUILS and KUMQUATS are just fun to say.
Good job Raymond Young.....

C. Ross Word 8:08 AM  

Quad pangram actually helped with the solve. I had no clue about JONQUILS and "finished" except for two letters. I was staring at _ONQUI_S. I listed all the letters from A to Z and went through the grid checking off each letter. Found I was short one D, 2 F's, one J and one Z. This allowed me to fix my incorrect rUmp to the proper DUFF thereby resolving the D and F shortages. The missing Z gave me LIZA leaving the remaining J to complete JONQUILS and voila: done! Fun Wednesday and no rant from OFL!

John V 8:09 AM  

Had a few mistakes, several blanks in the SW, so pretty foursquare DNF, second day in a row.

Had BONQUILS, BUTT for DUFF, no hope for DEFJAM, YAWPS, KYSER. Wanted NEWAGE for 43D. 45A clue a touch weak, IMHO. Yeah, so I left a real mess today.

Too much snow in Albany. YAWP!

Loren Muse Smith 8:15 AM  

News flash – I liked this.

Stunt puzzles are among my favorites, and for me, using each letter at least four times is a fun stunt. I finished it very quickly for a Wednesday – and forgave all the abbrev. because I wanted to see each letter four times.

@Metarex – I enjoy puzzles like this as much as ones with some 15 stacks! À chacun son FUTZ, I guess.

@Gill I.P. - I'm confused now, too.

And I came here this morning with a bit of trepidation, too, Whew!

Liked KUMQUATS, JONQUILS, WINDEX, DEFJAM, FUTZ, NU JAZZ (that corner was the slowest for me).

I agree with @Rex, Rob C, et al – too bad the X’s had to be part of a Roman numeral, but I’ll take it.

Nice job, Raymond!

Glimmerglass 8:21 AM  

Pangrams -- I can take 'em or leave 'em, but this quad actually helped me. Didn't know NUJA**, FRI*, or FUT*. All I had to do was notice I was short two Z's.

wislon 8:32 AM  

Had JuJO crossing uHOH, but everything else right at 10 mins. Would have been a record Wednesday for me. Never could find the error.

joho 8:33 AM  

A fabulous pangram on steroids! Loved it!

I totally don't mind XXXIX because, really, how else are you going to do it?

@Rex, JONQUILS crossing KUMQUATS is brilliant.

@Rex, thank you for not panning this pangram.

Thank you, Raymond C. Young(you had me at JOJO!).

Unknown 8:34 AM  

I thought this was kind of cool...and fairly easy. I almost wish there was no revealer so that we would have had to figure it out. I'm sure I wouldn't have.

jackj 8:44 AM  

How nice to have an intelligent themeless puzzle on a Wednesday and holy frijole, it’s “the first crossword to squeeze a quadruple-pangram into a standard 15x15 grid”.

Pangram quadruplets, the crossword equivalence of Octomom!

These constructing tours de force can be brilliant or banal, exquisite or excruciating and all gradations in between, but color me satisfied with this one and I applaud Raymond Young for his coup de crossword.

There were surprisingly few entries that seemed to be blatant “stretches” or that were just too arcane to be acceptable, TAZO, the Roman numeral XXXIX for the 2005 Super Bowl, (the New England Patriots defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21), NUJAZZ and DONQ were all candidates, but each of them was easily filled through the crosses so, no problem.

The puzzle wasn’t just a matter of cramming in letters to construct multi-pangrams, there were some terrific answers and memorable clues. WHOLL deserves a nod, if only for the way it looks; SQUISH was bad for the bug, good for the puzzle; “What_____?” for “What GIVES?” is from the same mold as yesterday’s “I can ____” for “I can RELATE, each being high end entries from skimpy but inferable cluing.

And, what a pleasure to have KUMQUATS and JONQUILS; YAWPS, FRIZ and FUTZ as entries, DUFF was good for “Keister” (though it was the third choice after BUTT and REAR) and in the clever cluing department, there was “One to speak of?” for THEDEVIL and my favorite, “Paper view?” cluing OPEDPAGE.

Many thanks to Raymond Young.

Miles 8:52 AM  

There ain't no motherf***in thing as NuJazz, and if some idiot made up that term 10 years after I died, which has never been used since, I certainly wasn't a part of it.

Rex Parker 8:55 AM  

A "pangram" is gratuitous nonsense tacked on to what might ordinarily be an interesting themed puzzle. THIS puzzle is *designed* to have all these letters four times—*that's* the theme—so it's Much more solid than the "pangrams" I hate and think are utterly useless (i.e. those that are forced onto puzzles that don't need / want them).


efrex 8:59 AM  

Rex keeps surprising me: I thought for sure he was gonna hate this one. Then again, he didn't hate the last quadruple pangram puzzle, so perhaps I shouldn't be so shocked. Too cranky to count letters, so the JONQUILS/JEUX cross didn't come to me, nor did CUSPS (which was left _U_PS in my grid).

Not really my cuppa, but I'm not gonna let out too many barbaric YAWPS over it.

MikeM 9:01 AM  

@CRoss - I did the exact same thing for _ON_UILS. I ran the alphabet, saw J and Q were lacking and there you go. Desperate measures, but I finished w no errors

Tita 9:05 AM  

Rushed for time, so luckily, I can just say...
@Rob C, @joho, @jackj - Exactly what y'all said!

Also echo the late posters from yesterday - I nearly couldn't sleep wondering what would happen to OFL!

Here is a beautiful pictorial of the tour de force...
The Check Screen from today's solve.

Bravo, Raymond!

Pete 9:14 AM  

I found no joy in solving this puzzle. Too many absurd abbreviations, too many proper nouns, too much arcana, no wit.

Solving it was akin to watching someone attempting to set a Guinness record for sitting on a flag pole, or something equally absurd, but without the tension of wondering if they would succeed or not.

chefbea 9:20 AM  

Found this pretty easy but DNF cuz I had putz - 47 down then made no sense. Never heard of the word yawp!!!

All of our Jonquils are up, now waiting for the tulips!!

Milford 9:21 AM  

Fun, different puzzle, and I really didn't smell anything funny until the reveal at 25A. Then it was a totally different solve, because you had to change your mindset to almost the least likely answer in a crossword!

Two mistakes, though - OPEnPAGE before OP-ED PAGE, and AGApE before AGAZE. So DNF, but still a fun solve. Made me use my crossword brain differently, which I will always welcome.

I, too, was a little scared of @Rex's reaction, but I think his distinction that this is the theme is well founded.

@Gill I.P. - I always think of putz as a noun (person) and FUTZ as a verb.

Funny how DUFF and JOJO could have been Simpson clues.

dk 9:41 AM  

My Poops.

1. A sports themed puzzle. The final four and it even includes a plug for UCLA.
2. How many flippin ways are there to spell AMEBA?
3. DUFF is a beer served at Moes'
4. Rhianna ???? How about label for Hose?

Guess how many stars?

🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4 Stars) Nice one Ray

mac 9:43 AM  

Smart puzzle with some beautiful words - I enjoyed it. Only write-over was futz for fool, and I had to guess the Z in Liza and Tazo. I guessed wrong.

The green of the jonquils and daffodils are just peeking through the snow - spring please!

Eric 9:50 AM  

Wow, I wouldn't have thought you enjoyed this one. My gauge on you is off, I suppose.

Totally agree on the cop-out for XXXIX, but, you know, it's passable.

I'm starting to notice JOJO Starbuck a lot more.

Growing weary of ECRU every other day. It's the new epee...or alai. Boring fill word.

Also, we've gotta give RASTAS a break and stop associating an entire culture with weed. I mean, yes, some Rastafari smoke, but come do I. So do a lot of people. That's like cluing in "Bald Person" with the answer being HARI KRISHNA.

Mitzie 9:55 AM  

Well, JEUX, JONQUIL, COATI, and ABEAD all crossing each other made this unsolvable for me.

I think there's lots of crap in here, but I also think @Rex is right that a pangram *theme* is better than a gratuitous pangram. That's not to say that I hate all gratuitous pangrams, but I do hate a lot of them.

I kinda feel like if @Rex had disliked this puzzle more, then his loyal followers would be giving it more flak.

Sandy K 10:00 AM  

After realizing the theme would call for a quad pangram, as @Milford said-I had to change my mind set.

Thought- EEKS! WHO'LL have a KUMQUAT OVER this?! But was pleasantly surprised. No FUTZ or YAWPS...except for XXXIX.

Had a write-over or two in the NUJAZZ- FUTZ/PUTZ section, but didn't fall on my DUFF.

Turned out to be fun!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:07 AM  

Liked it.

Two write-overs: 39 A, NES before NEZ; 22 A, SQUASH before SQUISH.

Was a bit surprised at 61 A, FUTZ, but looking in the dictionary see that it may have come from the Yiddish for "to fart around", i.e., not from something stronger in English.

Terry Bradshaw 10:09 AM  

Has JOJO ever been in a puzzle that wasn't a (multiple?)pangram? 'Cause, let me tell you, she wasn't that interesting on her own.

Bill C 10:09 AM  

I loved that the pangram eliminated Naticks. The Jeux/Jonquil cross could have killed me (see: Zax/XKEs), but today I could just count the J's. This is a great way to do harder puzzles without sending someone to Google.

My trick for Super Bowls: Joe Namath and the Jets won Super Bowl III in 1969. Remember one Super Bowl year, you know them all.

r.alphbunker 10:12 AM  

@Joe Krozel

An octopangram where each letter occurs exactly 8 times appears to be mathematically possible. That would be 8 x 26 = 208 letters with 17 black squares.

Elle54 10:12 AM  

@webwinger Loved the shout out to our great city!
Still don't get Zodiac borders being cusps..

chefbea 10:14 AM  

I know some one who is loving this pUzzle!!! I count ten!!!

OISK 10:19 AM  

My jonquils are late this year - it has been a chilly March in NY. For the non-gardeners out there, jonquils are a type of daffodil, generally with smaller flowers, but frequently several flowers from the same bulb. Some of them are very fragrant. A very smooth Wednesday for me, no Naticks and no complaints. If not for the SW, would have finished in a record Wednesday time for me ( 6 minutes) , but NUJAZZ (??) and Defjam (Rihanna makes records??) held me up. Don't think I have ever seen "futz" in a crossword before, but I liked it. All in all, good Wednesday, thank you.

Two Ponies 10:20 AM  

Impressive stunt but not that fun to solve. Meh.
Yawps is a word?

OISK 10:25 AM  

@elle54. The dates where one zodiac sign changes to the next are called the "cusps." For example, if you were born on November 21, you are right where Scorpio ends, and Sagittarius begins; you were born "on the cusp". So the cusp is the border between zodiac signs. ( from a strictly astronomical point of view, however, this is mostly nonsense! )

Notsofast 10:25 AM  

I had MUSES crossing FASES til I realized the clues were transposed! For some reason, I think that's just cool as hell! Nice Wednesday.

Matthew G. 10:25 AM  

Finished with an error, and one that I refuse to feel bad about. I had JuJO crossing uHOH. I'm sorry, but the vocalization for "Whoops" is UH OH, not OH OH -- -- and JOJO Starbuck is simply not famous enough to make a crossing with a variant spelling otherwise solid. I mean, good grief, she doesn't even appear to have won any medals.

Milford 10:27 AM  

@Elle 54 - zodiac signs usually are defined from the 20th-ish of one month to another (e.g. Aquarius is Jan 20ish to Feb 20ish). Those couple days on either end of a zodiac range are called CUSPS. They say if you are born on a CUSP you have characteristics of both signs, supposedly.

Milford 10:33 AM  

Oops, @OISK beat me to it! I type slow. BTW, I also think it's kind of silly. I think my husband and I are supposed to be mortal enemies, according to astrology.

JenCT 10:38 AM  

@Eric 9:50: LOL

@OISK 10:19: You beat me to the explanation about JONQUILS and an explanation of CUSPS!

Liked this, but never heard of many of the words, as others have mentioned.

John V 10:45 AM  

@ralph. Do not encourage such a thing. :)

quilter1 10:47 AM  

So nice to have JONQUILS on the first day of spring, although mine won't peek through for some weeks yet. And I'll take KUMQUAT any day of the year.

I saw surprised at the medium rating as I just filled it in top to bottom with no hesitations. No idea how I knew JOJO but I'll take it. DEFJAM taken care of by crosses though I never heard of it. Somehow I think it is funny that Clotho makes Rex sad, unless she is the one who snips the thread.

lawprof 10:57 AM  

I don't care much one way or the other about pangrams, and I take the experts at their word that they tend to overly constrict the grid. But a quad pangram is a whole 'nother thing. Wow! and quadruple Wow!

Got the theme pretty early because I had ?0?? at 25A, so the answer had to be FOUR. Then I had lots of white space along the San Diego to Kansas City corridor, where a bunch of Y's, Z's and F's resided. So, I just had to count letters and grind it out.

A tough, but enjoyable battle. Kudos to Mr. Young. Why not go for a CINQ next time?

Evan 11:01 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Evan 11:03 AM  

Most of what I wanted to say has already been said. I figured today would be a polarizing experience for many, but I thought this puzzle was surprisingly clean considering the constraints it was under, so I enjoyed it a bunch.

As several others above noted, a side benefit was that you could eliminate potential Natick areas -- I'd never heard of DUFF as a synonym for one's butt, and like @FearlessKim, I'd have gone with a Simpsons reference if I were cluing it. But anyway, if you had a completely filled puzzle and weren't sure about the crossing with DEF JAM, just count up the D's. Hell, I spent an extra minute or two just checking to see that I had exactly FOUR F's, J's, K's, Q's, V's, W's, X's, Y's, and Z's.

One other thing that I noticed: This puzzle has only four (!) three-letter entries. It's hard enough to do that and get clean fill on any puzzle, let alone a quadruple pangram. So I say well done, Raymond.

Masked and AnonymoXUs 11:06 AM  

Mighty mighty unusual WedPuz. Almost themeless, yet in another way, 4 x 26 = 104 + FOUR = 108 letters of theme material. And any single letter in the puz can claim to be part of the theme material. har. And the XXXIX-rated fillins. Pleasingly weirdball. thUmbsUp. And thUmbsUp to @40/41 for kinda likin' it.

And thUmbsUp to @chefbea, 'cause it's the thought that counts.

Saw El Capitan yesterday. Also Bridalveil Falls. Where am I? On the road with M&A.

Horace Fawley 11:09 AM  

Too much forced high-letter junk for me, too. "OHOH" is ridiculous. No one says that. Ever.

Ratiocinational 11:11 AM  

@ Two Ponies. If you read Whitman, you know YAWP. From Leaves of Grass: "I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world."

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

OHOH crossing JOJO. Love

Tita 11:13 AM  

I thought this was easy for a Wednesday, and am very happy that no Simpson-related alternate cluing was used, because that surely would have transmogrified easy into challenging.
Oh wait - I actually DNF. Actually, DNC (Did Not Care)...had SQLS in the NE, and was just too tired to care about actors or sports. I got the gimmick, looked through the grid and highlighted minimal dreck, and went to sleep.

Kinda cool that JONQUILS and KUMQUATS do NOT intersect at the Q!

elitza 11:33 AM  

I had No trouble with this, finished in under five, which is *unheard* of for me basically ever. Theme didn't come into play, really, but finding it allowed me to think a bit outside the box for JONQUIL/KUMQUAT. Got my alt-country LeeAnns confused for a bit, but no real issues.

jackj 11:34 AM  


I hope Joe Krozel takes up the challenge!

Arby 11:41 AM  

Wow! First of all I really expected Rex to hate this one. I know I did. And I found it impossible to finish. Gave up after 15 minutes. I've never heard of NuJazz. And I play jazz. (Badly, but nevertheless.) And I mean really: SEQS OHOH USTA EEKS NEZ YAWPS ATIT FUTZ JOJO IHOP OSTE LTR ESAI QTRS QUES DONQ JEUX and ITAL? Blecch.

Joe Natick 11:56 AM  

Yeah, when I'm solving a puzzle and there's one square I can't get, what I really, really want to do is to go through the entire puzzle, counting each letter, to see which of 26 has only three usages not four.

Two Ponies 12:16 PM  

@ Ratio, Thanks but even in that context yawps is one butt-ugly ridiculous word.

MetaRex 12:17 PM  

@loren...touche...I could say I was talking about what real people think, but yes it's heart leaps w/ pleasure when I see stacks and stays kinda flat when I espy pan-gs...even thematic ones. Scrabbly stuff in an open-field --like Julian L's Saturday puzz--OTOH is to swoon for :)

Joe Namath 12:45 PM  

@ Bii C

Love your trick to remember Super Bowl Roman numerals! So glad we didn't confuse the issue the way the Steelers, Cowboys, 49ers and Giants did.

Evan 12:46 PM  


Whatever one's taste in crosswords, let's keep it real -- I like to think that puzzle fanatics like you and I are real people too.

M and A also 12:47 PM  

But, in some twisted sense, it's always good to have a thing or two to YAWP about in the puz. Keeps the discussion lively.

Am discovering that when on the road, stay at the cheap-ish motels, but head for the gift shops at the fanciest hotels you can find. There's where you find yer NYT fix. BTW: USA Today puzs are gettin' better, but no quadgrams yet.

topten CAVEBAT cousins:
This of course is an exhaustive list. No other entries could possibly exist.

syndy 12:55 PM  

I w3as also expecting fireworks this morning-but as I finished the puzzle i had to admit that Quad had not resulted tortuous nightmare.It was pretty damn solid in fact!However I think that "CAVEBAT" is more a personal life style choice than a "thing" .One sad thing -there should not be a superbowl XXXXX!

jberg 12:59 PM  

@TwoPonies - well, it's SUPPOSED to be a 'butt-ugly' word, that was Whitman's point, I think.

So the biggest thrill, which I haven't seen mentioned, was getting FU__ at 61A. Other words would have fit there.

The biggest disappointment was the revealer. I mean, if you manage to construct a quad pangram, do you really need to tip us off before we'll notice? Or is that what it takes to make the pangrams be a theme, as opposed to a stunt?

Anyway, I liked it despite the superfluous I in XXXIX - more than four of those already.

Other notable features:

--No eels.
--36A could have been "Norwegian King (anag.)"
--Bandleader Kay could have been crossed with "Singer Ish _____," except that would have lost one of the Xes.

quilter1 1:35 PM  

@Evan, you never heard "get off your DUFF?"

Lewis 1:39 PM  

@ralph -- perfect and very funny post

I had __ly for 45A, and couldn't figure out what it was going to be, but one of the possibilities that went through my mind was EELY, and I was thinking someone here was going to be quite upset.

The high value Scrabble letters gave this puzzle lots of pop and it didn't feel TOO strained for what it was doing, and there were no moments that would, say, cause this blog's leader to write a 10 word review, ending it with 'nuff said. Bottom line for me, it was fun! Congrats, Raymond.

Bird 1:48 PM  

I started out liking the puzzle and the theme. I was thinking, “Nice idea, let’s see how it plays out” and “What will Rex think?”. Final answer: bleh

The cluing/answers became too obscure and weird. NUJAZZ is a thing? I know he played jazz, but I had NEW AGE. Never heard of YAWPS or JONQUILS. Pince-NEp seemed right. As did cUMQUATS. So it’s not Lee Ann Rhymes?

Hand up for putz around.

JenCT 1:49 PM  

@Joe Natick: LOL & you bear a striking resemblance to evil Doug...

retired_chemist 2:01 PM  

Fair to middling. Not too hard but definitely not easy.

DUFF was REAR, then RUMP, then BUTT before thr acrosses set me right. KYSER was KiSER, which kept me from the obvious MY WAY for far too long. Always thought Freleng was FRITZ, so 58A, with only four letters, stayed blank for a while. Refused JOSE Canseco until the end since I know the other one (baseball player) and was convinced I was mixing my Cansecos up.

Than ks, Mr. Young.

Carola 2:08 PM  

JEUX is the word of the day for me - very fun to see the play with the alphabet. I loved it all, from JOJO x OHOH through WREAKS and YAWPS to KUMQUAT x JONQUILS. Laughed at the 5-place RRN.

Two write-overs: SQUaSHES and JasmineS.

Wisconsin's rural DON Q Inn - "Unique in All the World" for its fantasy suites - was a favored honeymoon destination for my high-school classmates.

@webwinger - Thanks for the beautiful description. My son works in an office tower on Dearborn and should be able to get a great view.

Elle54 2:27 PM  

Thanks @OISK and @Milford for explaining cusps. Makes sense ( I don't read horoscopes either). Couldn't stop thinking of teeth!

Davis 2:36 PM  

Count me as another grump whose response to most pangram "accomplishments" is a hearty "meh." As a solver, I care how fun the puzzle is to solve, not how difficult it was to construct. I can appreciate the effort the constructor used to pull off a particular stunt, but that does nothing to improve my solving experience. (Though if they pull off a good stunt *and* make a fun puzzle, I'm pleased and impressed.)

That said, I enjoyed the quad-pangram when it was the *theme* rather than just something that the constructor managed to shoehorn in. Lots of unusual, sometimes-tricky fill in this one.

For the most part I cruised through at a good pace, with an early error at SQUaSH (which ESAI quickly corrected). I would have finished sub-7 minutes (which would be a solid Wednesday for me), but I had an error at JuJO/uHOH that took me about 45 seconds to find. I agree with the folks who think OHOH was weird.

LaaneB 2:39 PM  

Cross of NUJAZZ, YOGA and UGLY caused real problem. Why is UGLY 'Likely to break out into fighting"? Terrible clue. Didn't hit on OPEdPAGE until late in the game and was not familiar with AGAVES. So there was difficulty meriting the medium-challenging label. But I only had to google FRIZ at a58. I'll give myself a B+ today.

MetaRex 2:42 PM apologies wrt you and the legions of other Rexeans and avid solvers who are indeed real people!...wrt MetaRex and a few other denizens of CrossWorld (webwinger? OISK?) our handles suggest that the situation is not so clear...hints to the possible true identity of MetaRex here

Andjrea Carjla Miquelz 2:52 PM  

How could i not love this!?!!!
@milford, had both your OPEnPAGE and AGApE too, but that's what downs are for!

When reading thru the comments, it's fascinating to watch all the projection play out...

I mean, same puzzle, but compare and contrast @Loren Muse Smith's 8:15 exuberant list of fill she loved vs @Arby's naysaying string at 11:41.

It reminds me of my therapist's sage advice re:parties, ie concentrate on who's there, not who's not.

What great words, and the pileup of the Superbowl answer (Roman numerals AND sports) was so overthetop for me as to become fun and charming!

Thought this was a wonderfully Scrabbly achievement, glad the anti-pangram rant was tempered with a top of leaderboard pride, so people could focus on what the puzzle achieved vs being senselessly trashed.

@evan i actually enjoyed counting what was what as well. Usually i like to take a step afterward to really soak in the theme...then another to look at all the words that pleased me or triggered nice memories ( in this one it was having "WHOLL stop the rain? " go thru my head throughout the solving experience) but to actually examine each and every letter was a first for me and a unique way to appreciate a puzzle.

(i often like to count the Scrabbly power tiles JKQZX like in a David Quarfoot puzzle or Peter Wentz or Karen Tracey...but to look at every letter was a new experience and more QZP than OCD I hope!)

By the way @LMS and @GillI.P.
@milford is right that only PUTZ is a person, tho one can putz around or futz around. The Hebrew letter FEH/PEH is related ( like F/PH in English so probably derived from same word. Tho to call a person a PUTZ is much more derogatory than just saying someone is FUTZing around.

Anonymous 3:14 PM  

So that's what it's come to? Self-congratulation by the "top of [the] leaderboad" at the expense of any solving pleasure for hoi polloi?

Doc John 3:22 PM  

While JONQUILS crossing KUMQUATS may be a thing of beauty, JONQUILS crossing JEUX is most certainly not.

Z 3:27 PM  

My eye was drown to that long clue for 25A and my immediate thought was "les JEUX sont fait." But the compromises didn't overwhelm the fun words, so the puzzle does mostly work. I thought OFL would rip more on the RRN, but otherwise not much more to complain about.

I did not know Starbucks owned TAZO, so that is a fun JOJO Starbuck to TAZO by Starbucks connection.

sanfranman59 3:49 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 10:24, 10:37, 0.98, 44%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Wed 6:24, 6:22, 1.00, 51%, Medium

Acme 3:50 PM  

@M &A 12:47
I may have an idea for you, will you contact me on gmail?
(Full name with dot betw andreacarla and michaels)

GILL I. 3:56 PM  

@Milford @Andjrea Carjla. I guess one can FUTZ around and putz around - but you shouldn't call someone a putz??
I just got back from Trader Joe's JONQUILS were on sale!!! I bought a dozen.

Loren Muse Smith 4:02 PM  

@M & A - I hope I can meet you someday; I like your style.


chefwen 4:32 PM  

@ret_chem - I got from rear to DUFF the exact same way that you did.

Seems to me that we had YAWPS in a puzzle not too long ago, I remember doing a triple take on it at that time.

Loved this one, thank you Mr. Young.

Nameless 5:00 PM  

Impressive construction feat that should have stayed at home.

When I saw the clue for 25A I got somewhat excited, but my mood turned sour as I headed south. Lots of stuff I don't know, don't need to know and/or don't care to know. Yes, even for solving CWP.


Z 5:33 PM  

"My eye was drown to" - that would be "drawn to...."

schmuzz 5:50 PM  

and i thought my problem was in the SW with DUFF and FUTZ only to figure out it was THEnEVIL and OPEnPAGE...made me laugh....
overall i liked it and i find i'm never better than triple rex's time....drat 6:08 PM  

@Gill I.P.
October 27, 1998


A reader writes:

I'm wondering about the meaning of the word "putz." I've used it in the sense of casually puttering around, but reaction to the D'Amato statement about "putz-head" has me questioning. Can you help?

My, but New York's junior senator seems to get into problems when mimicking the speech habits of other groups.

The word putz is from Yiddish, where it literally means 'the penis'. Like so many other words for the penis, though, it is also used--much more frequently--in the figurative sense 'an offensive or foolish person; jerk'. As such it can be the subject of typical double-entendre jokes (e.g., foolishly dressed tourist in Israel takes a ride on a camel, announces to wife that it was a male camel, wife asks how he knew, man replies, "Everyone was saying 'Look at the putz on that camel!'").

A more common Yiddishism for the same concepts is schmuck. There is some disagreement over the relative offensiveness of these terms. In The Joy of Yiddish, Leo Rosten claims that putz is the more offensive word, but I believe most people today would think the opposite: putz has more of a connotation of bumbling foolishness, while schmuck is a stronger insult.

While the expression putz around, which I assume is what you have in mind when you refer to "the sense of casually puttering around," exists, and is paralleled by dick around and similar expressions, it is not very common. I have never encountered putz-head before, although of course dickhead is common. Neither seems appropriate discourse for a senator.

Putz is first found, in both literal and figurative senses, in the 1930s. It is from Yiddish puts 'an ornament; finery', which is related to German words meaning 'to clean' or 'to decorate'.

GILL I. 7:59 PM OHOH I feel like a shmendrik. Thanks for the enlightenment. Isn't language fun? @LMS. Are you laughing yet?

NYer 8:22 PM  

What most everyone said. Btw, did I miss something yesterday? What is OFL?

Anonymous 8:50 PM  

Our Fearless Leader.

Sparky 9:14 PM  

When I read 25A I started counting Js. At three I guessed FOUR. Didn't count after that. Enjoyable to work on this. JONQUILS or daffodils the December flower.

Arrived safely in Florida. Alas my computer seems to be completely shot. It says Windows is Logging off... but then won't log off. I am seeking a solution.

So long for now.

Ellen S 11:31 PM  

Anonymous, thanks for the explanation of OFL. I knew it referred to Rex, thought it might be "Old Forty-'leven".

I'm not convinced of the difference between pangram (stunt) and "theme" (accomplishment). Putting in a revealer that announces a quadruple pangram surely doesn't guarantee good fill, and I don't see why refraining from making the announcement guarantees that the fill will be "gratuitous" and "forced." Seems like if it's a good puzzle (like this one) and it's a pangram, then it's a good puzzle. And if it's a forced and tired puzzle and it's a pangram, then it's a not good puzzle.

Jberg, yes, yay, no EELS. I heard a song today (on Netflix episode of Sons of Anarchy) featuring eels, that I disliked about as much as I dislike finding said fishes in a puzzle, Noah Gunderson's "Family." A quick Google search suggests nobody knows what it's about and from the small number of hits, nearly nobody cares.

I had MistY (what was I thinking?) before MYWAY, and it turned that area mighty UGLY.

Webwinger, your description made me home sick except for the 21 degrees part. Here in California, land of sprawl, I do miss Chicago's beautiful straight urban grid and precise street numbering so if you know a house number you can calculate your distance from State & Madison. (Or at least State "or" Madison, depending on N/S. or E/W coordinates.)

sanfranman59 11:38 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 5:51, 6:10, 0.95, 25%, Easy-Medium
Tue 8:20, 8:20, 1.00, 52%, Medium
Wed 10:16, 10:37, 0.97, 43%, Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:35, 3:41, 0.97, 29%, Easy-Medium
Tue 5:06, 4:57, 1.03, 60%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 6:11, 6:16, 0.99, 44%, Medium

Nigel 12:25 AM  

I wish my Acrosslite software would actually stop timing when I've filled in all the answers. The only thing I had to play with in this puzzle was XJE - Alphabetizing all the way to X was embarrassing. Finished in 11:50 or so. Don't know where that lies on the scale of speed. Must figure out that out.

Anonymous 8:16 AM  

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Spacecraft 12:04 PM  

After a career of panning pangrams, OFL lets a QUADRUPLE one off the hook; go figure.

Actually, though, in many parts it didn't suffer that bad. True, the Qs in the NE are horribly forced, and the R# at the bottom does seem like a cheap way out--all those X's--but THEDEVIL is in the details. Hand up for the CCR earworm at 5a.

Never heard of DONQ, "NUJAZZ" or TAZO, but the crosses--aided by the stated theme at times--took care of them. Say, easy-medium.
I'm not gonna "pan" this one...but please: no more.

DMGrandma 2:37 PM  

Never heard of NUJAZZ. Cross that with some record company, a variant name spelling, and a questionable slang term, and you have a corner I just couldn't hang off the couple of words I knew. So, chalk up another DNF. I suppose, like others, I could have counted all the times various letters were used, and that might have helped, but that's not my cup of TAZO. Liked the KUMQUATS. My tree which has produced maybe 15 total over the 35 years we've tended it, is now inexplicably weighted down with pounds and pounds of them. Guess its marmalade time. Or maybe @ChefB has some ideas? As for the JONQUILS, they have long since come and gone in Syndiland. Ah, the time warp.

Captcha is/are "leastGF family". Is that a message?

Dirigonzo 4:45 PM  

I was sure (always a danger sign)that pUTZ was right so "Keister" became rUmp (never even considered DUFF) which left me with mRIZ Freleng, the famous Czech animator, and of course rEFJAM. The hardest part of doing this puzzle was convincing myself those answers could possibly be right. I'm impressed by the constructor's skill, but not so much with my solving skill.

Anonymous 2:21 PM  

I actually used the reveal to solve the puzzle, having just one blank square at the intersection of _ONQUILS and -EUX. My only hope short of a wild guess was to start counting the letters. When I got up to J and only had three in the grid, I had my solve.

The super bowl answer looks tricky but was fairly easy to reason out, football fan or not. I mean, WINDEX was a gimme, and there is only one five-digit roman numeral under 50 that has an X in that final position. In fact you have to go all the way to LXXIX to get to the next one, and there certainly haven't been THAT many (plus 7) Super Bowls.

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