Pax's Greek counterpart / WED 12-11-13 / Bygone Japanese camera brand / Red light locale / Did some woolgathering / Classic Fender guitar for short

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Constructor: Steve Savoy

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: Quote about creativity by ALBERT EINSTEIN (58A: With 39-Down, speaker of this puzzle's quote)— "IF AT FIRST / THE IDEA IS / NOT ABSURD, THEN / THERE IS NO / HOPE FOR IT"

Word of the Day: MUFTI (7D: G.I.'s civvies) —
Mufti, or civies/civvies (slang for "civilian attire"), refers to ordinary clothes, especially when worn by one who normally wears, or has long worn, a military or other uniform. (wikipedia)
• • •
[DEAR SYNDICATED SOLVERS. Please listen to the following pitch. Also, feel free to write me with any comments or concerns. You're well over half my total audience, and yet I hardly ever hear from you. Thanks!]

THE PITCH — [You can scroll down if you've already read it]

So … it's January, the time when I make my annual week-long pitch for financial contributions to this blog. Actually, I didn't make the pitch last year. I used last January to raise money for other causes instead (and it was my pleasure to do so). But this year I once again ask you (especially you regular readers) to consider what the blog is worth to you on an annual basis and give accordingly. As I've said before, as much as I love writing this blog, I treat it like a job— answers and commentary go up every day, without fail, usually at 12:01 am, but certainly by 9am at the very latest. This has been true for seven straight years. I know that some people are opposed to paying for what they can get for free, and still others really don't have money to spare. Both kinds of people are welcome to continue reading my blog, with my compliments. It will always be free. I have no interest in cordoning it off, nor do I have any interest in taking advertising. I value my independence too much. Anyway, if you are so moved, there is a Paypal button in the sidebar, and a mailing address here:

Rex Parker
℅ Michael Sharp
54 Matthews St
Binghamton NY 13905

Maybe I'll stick a PayPal button in here for the mobile users. Let's see...

I think that worked. Cool.

For people who send me actual honest-to-god (i.e. "snail") mail, I have this great new set of thank-you postcards that I'm hoping to burn through: "the iconic Pantone color chip design in 100 brilliant colors." Who will be the lucky person who gets … let's see … Pantone 19-2025: Red Plum? Ooooh, elegant. It could be you. Or give via PayPal and get a thank-you email. That's cool too. Anyway, whatever you choose to do, I remain most grateful for your readership. Now on to the puzzle …

Update: I got my first snail-mail donation —look at the cuteness:

• • •

Quote puzzles usually play hard, especially when the syntax is odd or unexpected, as it is here ("If at first the idea is…" really seemed wrong to me; when I got to "absurd" I thought maybe the quote was by some absurdist or surrealist, maybe it was running backward … something). The quote is OK. A bit insipid. Something you might see on an inspirational poster in a corporate office—an idea that sounds good, that people like to believe is true, but that people don't value in actuality. I'm not a big fan of quote puzzles generally—the quote has to *kill* for it to seem worth it, and *kill* is something quotes rarely do. They're usually of the "isn't that pleasant!" or "how pithy!" variety. I'm slightly fond of the way ALBERT / EINSTEIN is placed in this grid, I have to say. To me, that's the puzzle's greatest accomplishment, because that's a Lot of extra theme material to fit into an already pretty theme-crowded grid. ALBERT is wedged between to quote parts, and EINSTEIN crosses two quote parts, and (to top it off) ALBERT and EINSTEIN intersect. Very neatly done.

The fill is mostly average, with a few repulsive bits. DOT EDU should just be banned (5D: End of an academic 29-Across). DOT COM is a thing. A coherent, self-standing theme. All the other DOTs are pretending. HTEN and all "Battleship" answers are decidedly not things and should also be banned. SGTMAJ is a face-plant of an answer (as in, "I planted my face into the keyboard and this was the result"). Not a great look. Then there's THAT I / IT'D / STER / SUER, all answers to which one should, ideally, say NEIN. But for a theme-dense puzzle, this grid does OK. I definitely had an out-of-my-wheelhouse experience with this one. Couldn't come up with MUFTI. Have never ever head "woolgathering" as an expression meaning "dreaming," so DREAMT was … surprising (20A: Did some woolgathering). I struggled all over with this one, ending up with a time very much on the high end for me (not absurdly high, but high). My potatoes were oddly MINCED before they were MASHED (44D: Like the potatoes in shepherd's pie). I hastily and stupidly wrote in PHI for RHO (43D: Plato's P). Had IT'S OKAY instead of IT'S ON ME (33D: "Got it covered!"). YAP (as in "Shut your ___!") for MAW (11A: Big mouth). I learned that MINOLTA is bygone (44A: Bygone Japanese camera brand). Upon running into ALBERT, I briefly (and hopefully) thought the quote author's first name might be FAT. Alas.

Lastly, what is up with the cluing on "IT'S ON ME!" (33D: "Got it covered!"). First, the phrase in the clue feels really contrived without the "I" to start it off. The clue leaves off the subject, but the answer doesn't. Awkward. Why would you leave out the "I"? Second, both the clue and the answer have "IT" in them. You're not supposed to do that. The low-grade editorial sloppiness continues unabated.

Two more things:

1. The Kickstarter for Peter Gordon's newest season of "Fireball Newsweekly Crosswords" (2014) is up. 20 puzzles published throughout the year, all of them built around current events. These are pretty easy, pretty fun, and (by design) very, very contemporary. Like, hot-out-of-the-oven fresh. $5 to get in, which you can do here.

2. My 2013 Holiday Crossword Gift Guide ("Cross Crosswords Off Your Shopping List") is up—I wrote it for Pipe Dream, my University's student newspaper. You can see it here.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


wreck 12:07 AM  

Very tough for me! If the quote answers could stand on their own as a phrase, it might have helped. Not enjoyable for me at all!

jae 12:47 AM  

Yes, another tough one. My take is mostly the same as Rex's except there seemed to be an overabundance of 3 ltr. abbrs...AMA, ATL, ABA, GPS, SNL, SGT MAJ, COD, NIH...Got me wondering how many is too many?

Like the quote and mostly liked the puzzle.

okanaganer 1:02 AM  

Puzzle was OK; Rex's comments slightly better. I like "face plant of an answer" when you drop something on the keyboard. Sometimes it bounces!!! Sometimes you don't realize it happened until much later, when you read your client's mystified response to your email.

My favorite Einstein quote is "God doesn't play dice with the universe", mainly because he was dead wrong. (It's my favorite, because it's a reminder that no one is infallible.) That would have made a great quote theme, even if he was wrong.

Jisvan 1:03 AM  

Enjoyed Nubian bordello with a watery Amstel, but it was so difficult to slake one's thirst with this one...

Steve J 1:28 AM  

The idea of this puzzle was not absurd. Therefore, by its internal logic, there was no hope.

The puzzle proved that. Dull quote, dull fill, dull clues. No hope of my enjoying this at all.

My solve felt clunky and disjointed throughout, which made it feel a bit challenging. Yet I finished a bit faster than my average Wednesday time.

I also MINCED my potatoes at first rathe than MASHED them. I've eaten shepherd's pie enough, I should know better.

Agreed about the sloppiness of 33D. That seems like a rookie editing mistake.

Benko 1:35 AM  

Between red lights at the BORDELLO and AMSTEL beer it reminds me of living in Amsterdam. I used to live about a thirty seconds' walk from the Magerebrug over the AMSTEL, in fact.
Quote puzzles are often awkward to solve, agreed. The best ones usually come from comedians' one-liners. At least you have a chance of laughing--I've seen funny quotes by Mitch Hedberg and Steven Wright before.
@oxanager--That is one of the two major interpretations of quantum mechanics. The other is that there are hidden variables which provide the illusion of randomness. While there is no doubt that quantum mechanics works, no one has decided why it works yet. Einstein may yet be proven right.

chefwen 2:00 AM  

The last time we were in Amsterdam we were walking down a street and I saw a beautiful pair of red shoes in a semi-basement window, thought "what an unusual shoe display" until I followed the shoe up a leg and onto a semi naked (lady?) How naïve am I?

@Steve J - I think we are kindred spirits, your second sentence said it perfectly for me, I need to add nothing. Thank you!

Atari Celtic Muftis 4:59 AM  

@Steve J.

Originally had ToadILY and thought that's weird (also wrong)

COD, does that still exist?

There was a subtheme of medical abbrevs:

MARAUD is cool, as is it a sort of rakish flava.

Moment of synchronicity...watching Judge Judy while solving (well, not THAT synchronicitous as I watch her 3 times a day) and it took a long time to come up with SUER. I wasn't even SURE that was a word.

jberg 6:45 AM  

I didn't think it was so bad -- I loved DREAMT, however clued, the WATERY AMSTEL, ANTIC, MINOLTA, SLAKE ... and although I didn't know the quotation, most of it was easy to figure out (once I gave up the idea that THERE IS NO would not be followed by 'reason.') My only problems were RETAb, rfD, and Mjr before MAJ.

I've got a sinkful of potatoes to wash before I can mince them, so that's all, folks!

Mohair Sam 7:21 AM  

Tough Wednesday, but we staggered home. Quote puzzles are always tough, but they make a nice change now and then - I enjoyed this one, and liked the quote too. Very much with @rex, however, on battleship clues. Didn't mind the DOTEDU, especially since it was teamed with and attached to URL.

Woolgathering is a nifty term I've always loved, so DREAMT was a gimme here. Spent 5 years in the Air Force and have a son who is career military, neither he nor I have ever heard the term MUFTI.

Anonymous 7:22 AM  

Didn't think it was that hard either... A minute faster than my Wednesday average.

John V 7:46 AM  

Well, felt medium/easy but finished with a whopper of an error; had TOOABSURD for 35A, as could not parse 24D battleship clue and 33D would not come together. So, ended with, "If the idea is too absurd...." which, of course, is self referential in absurdity.


Z 7:56 AM  

@Benko - or may be not proven wrong.

I have had the opportunity to participate in brainstorming sessions, an activity predicated on this quote's notion. If the boss is in the room, THERE IS NO HOPE FOR this to work. First, the boss never seems able to actually let loose and let the absurdist ideas flow. Second, the peons won't let the absurdist ideas flow in front of the boss.

ENA AMA - that sums it up.

Beer Rating - PBR - no matter how much you dress it up and try to make it a hipster cool beer, it is still PBR.

NYer 7:58 AM  

@Rex' obsession with dissing Will Shortz every chance he can get reminds me of FoxNews and their obsession with Pres. Obama. Pathetic. So he rejected your crossword submission? Give it up already! Time to move on.

joho 8:12 AM  

@Mohair Sam, I too, liked the cross at DOTEDU and URL. Nice.

I also like the look of NEIN aligned with EINSTEIN. Also as @Rex mentioned, that ALBERT crosses EINSTEIN.

The quote is ABSURDLY amusing. But the words sticking in my head are "IFATFIRST you don't succeed, try, try again!"

Hello, ORT!

GILL I. 8:13 AM  

MiFTI civvies and the Nile Valley region became NiBIA. Bah....

Unknown 8:29 AM  

Did it, but with very little pleasure for many of the reasons Rex mentioned. Pretty much wanted to just quit at HTEN but forced myself to git 'er done.

Anonymous 8:36 AM  

And another clue that needed editing: very few AMA members are GPs. General Practitioners, with one year of post medical school training, are quite a rarity in the US nowadays.

Milford 8:49 AM  

@joho - I had the same fleeting thought that maybe that was the quote and thought, "Wow, that was an EINSTEIN quote?" haha.

True, quote puzzles are a bit of a challenge with so much of the puzzle involved in the quote, especially if you are unfamiliar with it (as I was with this one). The quote's meaning kind of makes my brain hurt - I'm too unABSURD to think that way.

Had spoil before GO BAD at 1A.

The MUFTI/NUBIA area was a little difficult - I thought MUFTI was a type of person, maybe from the Middle East? Not sure. Then I remembered something about NUBIAn wool.

Did not know that MINOLTAs were bygone now.

Is IT'D a contraction that's used much? Felt awkward to write. I feel like it's more something I would say, but not write. Thoughts, @lms?


@Z - kind of sad that the puzzle with an AMSTEL answer couldn't earn an AMSTEL rating.

Unknown 8:52 AM  

Medium. Right around average time. Nothing particularly challenging IMHO. I wince whenever I see SUER or RUER, and, seriously, the Battleship-related hints? Worthless. In all, though, a decent Wednesday puzzle.

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

Dreamt is the only word in the English language ending in mt.

i am not a robot 8:54 AM  

Unlike the majority,

I like a) quote puzzles

b) this quotation. Very

Thought for the day:

Popular violin is a Strad.
Popular guitar is a Strat.

Danp 8:57 AM  

OK, now I want to see "face-plant" in a puzzle. I don't care if it's a real thing or not. I like it!

Airymom 9:01 AM  

Ahh...."Pipe Dream"...I still have my copy from August 1973, when I moved into Endicott Hall.

Carola 9:11 AM  

Huh, one of the very rare days when I find a puzzle easier than Rex. I like quote puzzles, and maybe because I do so many acrostics I usually find the quotes fairly easy to fill in - once the crucial toehold is there. @John Child - I also tried "too" ABSURD at first - Einstein and I definitely don't think alike (what an INSIGHT :) )


@joho - Besides the German NEIN by EINSTEIN, they also cross with TIER - German for ANIMAL.

@sfingi - From last night - what a story! I can't help wondering about the shoe AFTA it was used as a drinking vessel.

chefbea 9:36 AM  

Tough puzzle. DNF. Love shepherd's pie so of course had mashed right away.

Anonymous 9:51 AM  

"Woolgathering" usually means daydreaming, but it makes sense if you think of counting sheep. I liked the puzzle though - initially I wondered if I could solve any of it, then was pleasantly surprised when I realized I'd finished.

pmdm 10:12 AM  

In my first read through of the clues, I felt that this was going to be a very hard puzzle. But oddly, after the first pass I found the puzzle was actually very easy to complete - easier than most Wednesday puzzles. Very odd, considering many of the expert solvers remarks about the challenging nature of the puzzle. I recently started solving the Sunday bi-weekly acrostic puzzles (I've been saving them for years for when I would have time to solve them), and perhaps this has increased my skill at completing partial quotes. For whatever reason, it seemed easy for me to complete the quote with only a few crosses filled in, and With only three crosses I recognized the last name of the author.

Old New Yorker 10:19 AM  

I'm new here and have enjoyed reading the blog almost as much as doing the puzzles. I found this puzzle easy and was surprised (pleased) that Rex found it a challenge. As a woman in her eighties it's fun to know things that youngsters like Rex doesn't.

retired_chemist 10:20 AM  

Well, I loved it. The quite was super. Einstein describes the thought process that goes into a truly major discovery, of which I made ..... hmmm, let's count..... not quite one in my academic career.

Generally good fill. Had spoil for GO BAD, guessed MINOLTA right off just because it was the only 7 letter Japanese camera I could think of, IT'S ON ME is more in the language to apologize for your (sports) mistake.

Solid Wednesday that felt easier than it played. Call it easy-medium.

Thanks, Mr. Savoy. Sorry some are stompin'.

Horace S. Patoot 10:26 AM  

Maybe it's a regional thing, but to my ear, "Got it covered" and "It's on me" are exactly equivalent. "I got it covered" would sound illiterate, and "I've got it covered" lacks the casualness of, say, covering the tab.

quilter1 10:30 AM  

Only challenging for me because I'm running low on ink and some clues were not visible. Gotta go to Staples today. Oh, and I liked the puzzle.

Loren Muse Smith 10:43 AM  

Rex – your "faceplant" remark made me laugh out loud!

Agree with Andrea – MARAUD is great.

SLAKE was good, too. I don't think I've ever in my life used SLAKE in regular conversation. Maybe I'll test the WATERs today at Planet Fitness of the "Judgment Judgement" Signs. "Ya know, tap WATER is fine, but it's seltzer that really SLAKEs my thirst." What is it with words? Was SLAKE around, enjoying popularity for centuries, only to be usurped by that upstart, "quench?" (Or is it {"quench"?}? I'm so confused now.) But in other instances, there is plenty of room in our language for synonyms – pithy, terse, laconic, pat, succinct, brief, concise, short. . .Think "quench" is just that? – no possibilities for various shades of meaning? Hence just one main word? I never really did a lot with semantics.

DEY – when I was teaching at Carolina, my office was in DEY Hall (pronounced "dye"). One of UNC's visitor parking lot was right next to my building, and on days when I was in a hurry or just being lazy, I would pull up to the guard at the lot and upspeak, hesitantly, "I have to deliver some papers? To DEY Hall?" But I would pronounce it like "day" - I was always waved on in. Sneaky me.

@Andrew Morrison - didn't we have RUER just yesterday? And today it's SUER. Maybe tomorrow will have CUER. Or a salon color specialist, HUER. The constructor will have to hone his/her cluer skills on that one.

"Yaw" before MAW. Every. Single. Time.

@Gil I.P. Me, too, for "mifti/nibia." Oh well.

Bet we have lots of ABA and AMA people on the blog.

@Milford – IT'D did stand out to me, and I was already kicking it around! It does feel much more spoken. Wonder if it's a phonetic thing – It's the only pronoun that ends in a consonant? Nah. That can't be it - It'll doesn't look weird to me. But neither does she'd, he'd, they'd, we'd, I'd. Hmm.

ANIMAL crackers are cookies. Cookies are sweet. Crackers are savory. It's just that simple, people.

Mom always tried to give me milk toast when I was sick, a dish that I could never abide. So is the actual food "milk toast" but the wimpy weenie "milquetoast?

"Gaseous" – I read that Jennifer Lawrence responded recently to a fan's "Howya doin'?" with, "I'm great. Just a little gassy." I'm totally going to steal that one.

I think I went over this a few days ago with everyone – DREAMT is slowly going the way of "swept" and SLAKE. I think you're just as likely to hear, "I DREAMed last night THAT I was a bawdy MARAUDer."

@chefwen – I wish I could say, "The last time we were in Amsterdam. . ."

@Old New Yorker – welcome! Hope to hear more from you!

Thanks for the Wednesday romp, Steve!

DigitalDan 10:52 AM  

Easy one for me, Wednesday-wise.

DOTEDU is a thing. In the long run, COM won't be all that distinguished.

The quote is kind of the implicit starting point in any research place. It's fun to go back and read the critiques of the initial Ethernet proposal. Absurd doesn't begin to represent the some of the opinions.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:58 AM  

Good enough for EINSTEIN, good enough for me.

(@lms - Caspar Milquetoast is the name of a fictional character known for his timidity.)

Two Ponies 11:05 AM  

Too many 3-letter answers and annoying cross references but I admire the theme density so thumbs up.
Why do we only get watery Amstel Light here. Are the Dutch keeping all the good stuff for themselves?

jburgs 11:06 AM  

Was easy puzzle for me today. The dumber clues were easily gotten over with crosses. Learned what MUFTI was. Had heard the word before and always thought it had something to do with a variation of army clothes a la "dress, fatigues, combat etc. Was a surprise to hear that it meant civilian dress.

Liked the puzzle and the quote.

Steve J 11:06 AM  

@Loren: "Cookies are sweet. Crackers are savory. It's just that simple, people."

What about graham crackers? I certainly wouldn't consider them a cookie.

Gustav Klimt 11:07 AM  

@Anonymous, 8:53 AM - Contradiction of your assertion is clearly undreamt of.

lawprof 11:18 AM  

Thought this played on the easy/medium side. On the other hand, is any puzzle in which one makes a mistake, by definition, hard? That was me today. I had AsSURED in the middle of the quote, and the crossing sAT made sense to me (as in "sat up"), the baseball reference never having entered my consciousness.

I wasn't familiar with the Einstein quote, but it certainly seemed plausible that he might have already had a solution to a problem in his mind (i.e., assured) before it even occured to him that there was a problem. Great minds most assuredly do not think alike.

Loren Muse Smith 11:24 AM  

@Steve J - yep. I've always wondered why they're graham "crackers." They should be graham cookies.

I'm just grumpy this morning because I'm waiting around for the fifth Dishnet technician to come out to troubleshoot our anemic, laughable internet service, my land line is down, and my &^%$ HP 4500 officejet won't work. Again.

And I'm a TAD gassy.

lawprof 11:28 AM  

Just looked at the grid again. Yikes, "assured" doesn't even fit, and "assurd" isn't even a word. This takes it from a one-square mistake to a train wreck.

AliasZ 11:31 AM  

I agree with @Rex that "I've got this" perhaps would've been a better clue for IT'S ON ME than "Got it covered," but it did not define the puzzle, rather the large number of threes and abbrs did. Indeed, as @jae, I was wondering just how many are too many. At what point does Will send it back to the constructor with the note "Please take out the garbage"? NIH, AMA, ABA (these two are the same exact words except Medical/Bar), ROT, RAT, MAT, MAW, ORB, ORT etc., and the worst, ITD.

SUER reminded me of Ed Norton's office. Which is where SUER belongs together with HTEN.

I had a coworker once whose favorite expression when clarifying something he was sure nobody knew except for him, was THE IDEA IS. However he pronounced it "the idear is," which totally killed whatever he had to say afterwards. He definitely did not believe that THERE IS NO "I" in team. He was a one-man team.

I for one am sitting back and waiting to see who will have the last word on whether Einstein will be proven right or wrong for his "God doesn't play dice with the universe" quote.

Strange as this may seem, 11A reminded me of British composer Nicholas MAW (1935-2009), who wrote this beautiful Violin Concerto for Joshua Bell in 1993. The "Romanza" (last) movement, especially its closing, is heavenly. Give it a try, you will not RUE it.

Rob C 11:40 AM  

Solidly medium Wed. for me. Surprised to see the challenging rating. Maybe it has something to do with quote puzzles (or maybe just this one specifically) not being speed solver friendly. If true, SanFran Man's times ratings should prove.

I used to dislike quote puzzles when I first started solving. I'm more of a fan now.

Yes, it had it's fair share of junk, but I thought some zippy fill more than made up for it. And Rex is right in pointing out that the theme is very dense (60 theme squares) and must have put quite a strain on the fill.

Don't agree with @Steve J that the quote is dull. Agree with @i am not a robot in thinking that it is inspiring, and I'd add rather profound.

Anonymous 11:55 AM  

What is a good Wednesday time for Rex Parker?

Blue Stater 11:56 AM  

@NYer - Rex isn't the only one around here who occasionally finds it possible to contain his enthusiasm for WS's work on the puzzles.

Z 12:05 PM  

@milford - ORT to HTEN really wrecked this for me, plus quote puzzles aren't my cuppa to begin with. So the comparison to something that seems retro-cool/hipster but still isn't very good just seemed too apt. Besides, I think I used AMSTEL as the beer-rating the last time it appeared in the puzzle.

@everyone - scientists are in the business of disproving, not proving. So Einstein will never be proven right about God and dice. Okay - I'm done with my nit for the day (and - yes - I know, but we're talking about Einstein here, we should be precise, n'est-ce pas?).

@Gustav Klimt - Exactly. But now I have to figure out why you commented.

Z 12:16 PM  

Well, I still don't have an answer to my first question, but what a fascinating artist. I wonder if he knew Rex or Shortz when he said, "If you cannot please everyone with your deeds and your art, please only a few. To please many is bad."

Gustav Klimt according to Wikipedia

Masked and Anonymo4Us 12:26 PM  

Al Einstein really tears me up, with his double negative quotes. Seems like we had another quote by him, last spring. Somethin like: "Pewitivity is the residue of wasted time."

Quantum mechanics (dice) says that a car parked in the garage last night will end up in yer bedroom closet, in the mornin. Once in the history of the big U. At least, that's the excuse I gave to the PuzEatinSpouse...

Al's fave weeject string: SGT.MAJ. There is hope for it.

M&A's fave regular weeject: NIH. Sort of sounds like a mixed no/yeah, with a slight leaning toward no. "Did you go out in that car late last night?" ... "M&e? Late? Last? ... Nih...?"

@muse: If U use HUER, don't forget the other required sequels: DUER and LUER. harrer.


Numinous 12:45 PM  

I may be a little perverse here. On reflection, I liked 33D. Had it been clued cryptic style: "Got it covered (3, 2, 2)" one might have expected the it to be at the bottom of the answer as in "he's on it." That the IT was on top struck me as amusing.

I've known the term MUFTI since forever though not the origin. Initially it did not stand directly for "civilian dress", it meant being out of uniform. In the early 19th century, British officers would lounge about in vaguely eastern dressing gowns and smoking caps when off duty in their quarters echoing the apparel of an Islamic scholar or Mufti. Thank you wikipedia!

6 abutting a vertical 8 immediately suggested ALBERT EINSTEIN to me even though I only had IF AT FIRST at that point (I tend to solve counter clockwise). SGT MAJ was a gimme after JOHN and MASHED tumbled out of my long-time love for shepherd's pie.

I'm with @Old New Yorker except I'm a man in his late sixties. I found it pretty easy.

foxaroni 12:56 PM  

Hand up for feeling there are too many abbrevs.

I was hoping SKAT would be the WOTD--I think I've seen it in puzzles before, but I'd forgotten it. Thought it might be OKAT, which was some schoolyard game--or am I mis-remembering that, too?

Words I wish would be dropped from usage: cuppa (no offense intended, @Z), wheelhouse, and plate (as in, "You can't take a break because your plate is full.")

And since, after all, it's all about ME, please heed and obey. :-)

Numinous 12:57 PM  

P. S.
One nit: ATL is the home of THE Braves though it could be the home of A Brave. I did, however, enjoy that pared with at BAT.

Steve J 12:59 PM  

@jberg: I didn't notice last night that AMSTEL was right next to WATERY. That's fantastic. Makes me like this a little bit more. (And to be fair, despite my pithy comment last night, even though I found the overall puzzle to be dull, there were a couple interesting bits, BORDELLO and MARAUD in particular.)

GILL I. 1:00 PM  

M&A...HUER, DUER and LUER.....Still giggling. Do you make your sheperd's pie with lamb or hamburger meat?

Lewis 1:07 PM  

@rex -- Loved your riff on quote puzzles, and laughed out loud on the faceplant conceot. Agree that the clue for 33D should have an I. Enjoyable and spot on writeup.

Aliasz -- Good post, which is the rule for you.

This did not play challenging to me, mostly. I thought most of the clues were Tuesdayish. Though I did not know a couple of words, and was Naticked at IRENE/ANION.

I don't think the AMSTEL people will like being next to WATERY, making it not SLAKEworthy. A companion to the theme quote is NEIN next to EINSTEIN, as in "Don't pursue the idea".

LaneB 1:15 PM  

Delighted to have nailed this one after Monday and Tuesday DNFs. The quote filled easily enough but DEEJAY, IMGONE, DOTEDU SGTMAJ, RETAG and HTEN were out of my ken and delayed things considerably. ITSONME likewise. Never heard of STRAT and SKAT, but there are lots of things I've not heard of especially in the Friday and Saturday puzzles. Didn't expect all the junk so early in the week.

Masked and AbsurdymoUs 1:16 PM  

@Gill I. P.: My German Shepurd prefers 4 and twenty blackburds. But usually she will settle for an ORT, rot before GOBAD time.

Thanx U for askin. And gigglin.

okanaganer 1:18 PM  

Re: God does not play dice...
@Benko said..."That is one of the two major interpretations of quantum mechanics. The other is that there are hidden variables which provide the illusion of randomness."

Well, here's someone else's two cents worth:
"Einstein's view was what would now be called, a hidden variable theory. Hidden variable theories might seem to be the most obvious way to incorporate the Uncertainty Principle into physics. They form the basis of the mental picture of the universe, held by many scientists, and almost all philosophers of science. But these hidden variable theories are wrong."
--Stephen Hawking (

Malcolm Gibson 1:19 PM  

Not a big fan of quote puzzles, but I actually found this one to be fairly simple and straight-forward. Not terribly challenging...and I'm not in the "best crossword puzzle guy" league. Only got stuck on the middle for a short time, but it came quickly after putting it aside for a few minutes. Strange how the same puzzles are "easy" for some and "challenging" for others. And then vice versa. At times, the one you label "easy" isn't for me! Oh, well. But thanks for your comments and commentaries (though, at times, I think you're a little too tough on the constructors).

Benko 1:24 PM  

@Z--You're right, of course, about Einstein not being proven wrong rather than being proven right. I reread my post last night and saw that I was inaccurate both in that statement and in considering the hidden variable interpretation to be as "major" as the indeterminist one, but I didn't feel it was worth correcting myself unless someone showed an interest. The de Broglie-Bohm model shows that it is possible to come up with a completely consistent explanation of quantum theory which doesn't involve indeterminism, but it certainly doesn't prove it is necessary to do so. My major point being simply that the jury is out when it comes to an explanation of the physical reality behind the mathematics of quantum theory, and I feel it probably always will be, although we will continue to come up with evermore accurate predictions as to quantum phenomena.
@TwoPonies--the beer drinking connoisseurs of Holland tend to look down on Amstel, Heineken, and Grolsch the same way American connoisseurs look down on Coors, Budweiser, and Miller.

Benko 1:36 PM  

As, I mention above, there have been completely consistent interpretations which do not involve determinism. It's interesting to me that Bohm himself criticized his own model for necessitating the addition of extra hyper spatial dimensions, when that certainly hasn't stopped string- and M-theorists, the latest evolution of unified field theory.
Quoting Hawking saying it is wrong is no more useful than quoting Einstein saying it is right. Personally I think they are both wrong. I prefer the minimalist"shut up and do the math" approach to quantum theory. Leave the implications to the philosophers, as there are a seemingly infinite number of logically valid interpretations as to the physical phenomena causing the math to work, since we can't actually observe these phenomena physically.

Z 1:36 PM  

@foxaroni - none taken

@Gill I.P. - I had my two bits on duck. Surprised that M&A uses German blackburds. He seems like such a nice fellow.

@Benko - It is hard to find a subject that this crowd isn't interested in at least a little. Heck, I didn't know I was interested in Gustav Klimt until a couple of hours ago.

I've now exceeded my daily quota a comments, so all the rest of you have got to stop writing interesting things.

Benko 1:38 PM  

Read "indeterminism" for "determinism" in that first sentence, please.

M and Anotherthing 1:47 PM  

@Benko, Z, et Al E.:

yep. I subscribe to the infinitely complicated theory, when it comes to explainin the infinitely large and infinitely small stuff. Absurd, U say? Well all right, then, dude! I must be on to somethin.

I figure if it weren't infinitely complicated, someone with the chops of Hawking woulda nailed it down and spit it out by now. QED.

Me, I just scored me a dvd copy of Sharknado, down at the local used movie place (a dyin breed). My afternoon is lookin good, my friends.

Sharknado. And beyond, the infinte...

beatrice 2:33 PM  

Having read a fair amount of 19th century British literature, the word 'mufti' was well-known to me. The Wikipedia article supports my impression that this is a British usage, and not one adopted in this country. @jburgs says that as a military man he never heard it. Paraphrasing Wiki, the term is a relic of the British empire, referencing as it does some by-gone Arabic scholar named Mufti. The Wiki article on him, though brief, is interesting, as is the one on the usage in question here.

All kind of points to the vast difference between the respective cultures of GB and the US since we parted ways, seems to me.

Anonymous 2:43 PM  

Challenging? Agreed, some of the fill was really bad, and the puzzle took a bit longer than yesterday's but not much. Can't believe that Rex had never heard of woolgathering.

Explanation Man 3:17 PM  

@Z--Simple. KliMT.
Like dreaMT and undreaMT.

Somewhere in Michigan 3:18 PM  

[the sound of palm slapping forehead]

okanaganer 3:32 PM  

@Benko: "Quoting Hawking saying it is wrong is no more useful than quoting Einstein saying it is right. "

But Hawking's been on Star Trek, so he must be right!

(Anyway, interesting thoughts. I will shut up now...)

i am not a robot 3:49 PM  

re: okanaganer.....and Star Trek..

indeed, watching this clip
reminds me of the "spirited discussion" on this blog...a lot.

Anonymous 3:55 PM  

to = direction
too = excessive
two = numer after one

"Albert is stuck between TO quote parts? Tsk, tsk

sanfranman59 4:14 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 11:28, 9:55, 1.16, 84%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Wed 7:01, 5:55, 1.19, 88%, Challenging

oldbizmark 4:47 PM  

thought that this was painfully easy for a wednesday. was pretty disappointed, actually, that it posed no challenge whatsoever. i am sure i am not alone here to be surprised at seeing the "challenging" label.

dk 4:56 PM  

All I want for Christmas is a puzzle worthy of more than two stars.

🌟🌟 (2 Stars) B double O Double R ing for some holiday cheer

mac 5:11 PM  

No more than medium for me, although I had sort of a slow start.

I have read my fair share of British lit of the 19th century so mufti was a gimme. Wonder if its source is Hindi.

@Benko: which side of the Amstel? Old town or the Portuguese synagog?
@TwoPonies: not a beer expert, but I have heard that Dutch beer is changed for different markets. I just know that, like here, there are many "ambachtelijke" (artisanal) beers now, some seasonal. I think ordinary drinkers drink what is on tap, in a glass of a size of their choice.

Anonymous 5:24 PM  

Worst cluing I've seen lately:
1. Home of the Brave? Any baseball fan knows it's Home of the Braves.
2. "Bambi" deer? No,it's Bambi's Aunt, Steve.
3. Many 16-Across members? Could be anything, rns, drs, etc, etc.
4. One on Judge Judy? Suer is a word never uttered by anyone.

Suspend Steve Savoy for 30 days.

Pete 6:32 PM  

Does no one pay attention to anything any more? A student newspaper named "Pipe Dreams"? Is the administration supporting drug usage? - Hey kids, go smoke some opium, or crack or meth if you're a go-fast guy, then write whatever you think of in the student newspaper.

Great idea.

MetaRex 6:47 PM  

Nice to have DREAMT and INSIGHT in an EINSTEIN puzz...

The PIEDMONTESE number for today's puzz = +62...very similar to yesterday's +65.

The number = good stuff (PIEDMONT) minus not so good stuff (ESE)...more on how the number is created here

acme 8:26 PM  

Love the DDEY/DAY story... that's the kind of thing I live for! Tricky!!!
Also, I live for chocolate-covered graham crackers, which puts an end to the isitacookieornot debate!

OK, ABA, AMA haters:
Since I am not quite blue in the face I will say one more time, that there is NO three letter word this crowd would approve of:
it's the glue!!! It's the glue!!! It's the glue!!!
Focus on the pretty thing the glue is holding together.

As for dissing editing, we have no idea what condition the puzzle arrived in and how much was done... Sometimes Will does say "get rid of X, Y and Z word and I can run this on a Monday" and off we go for a rewrite.

Generally, he can live with one or two outliers, thank god...
obviously if there was a way around them, short of the short-sighted scoff to trash the puzzle or not submit it altogether, the constructor probably tried it.

@okanger, @benko, @Z et al,
I also like when the discussion here is elevated to a level that I have no idea what people are discussing! It's like having a bonus puzzle to solve!

gifcan 8:52 PM  

Guessed on a couple of letters and finally got and F!

I don't particularly like quote puzzles but I enjoyed this one start to finish.

The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom.

Steve J 10:01 PM  

@Anon 5:24: First off, we have no idea which clues originated with the constructor and which originated with the editor.

As far as the specifics: If all of the Braves play in Atlanta, then any single one does. The question mark indicates the clue is not to be taken literally.

Putting "Bambi" in quotes indicates it's referring to the movie, not the character. And Ena is indeed in that movie.

I had no problem with the clue for GPS. Not the most elegant, but far from terrible.

SUER is the answer, not the clue. And no argument here that it's one of those words that's pretty much never used outside a puzzle context.

@Acme: I get what you're saying about glue, but what do you do when the glue seeps out from between the parts and mars the finish (thus describing every single model I built as a kid)?

Personally, I didn't mind ABA or AMA. If that was it, no problem. But there was a lot more than that, and the glue kind of oozed out everywhere. Everyone's tolerance for how visible the glue should be will vary, and even an individual's tolerance will vary based on how good they perceive the whole model to be. But there will definitely be times it will be too much. I think being too forgiving of that is just as much a mistake as getting overly fixated on stray bad bits.

That said, I've seen far more egregious glue abuse than was present here.

sanfranman59 10:09 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 7:35, 6:07, 1.24, 98%, Challenging (5th highest ratio of 207 Mondays)
Tue 9:34, 8:12, 1.17, 87%, Challenging
Wed 11:19, 9:55, 1.14, 82%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:41, 3:46, 1.24, 99%, Challenging (3rd highest ratio of 207 Mondays)
Tue 5:24, 5:09, 1.05, 63%, Medium-Challenging
Wed 6:45, 5:55, 1.14, 85%, Challenging

I, too, am surprised by the Challenging rating on this one. I completed it in my 30th percentile Wednesday time (7:25). So it was a dead-center Easy-Medium for me. I guess I was just in sync with Mr. Savoy's style.

Anonymous 10:11 PM  

You guys made my day. I'm a Monday. Tuesday solver. Wednesday maybe. I sailed through this one and you guys say its a tough one. Guess I just had a good day. Thanks

Anonymous 10:25 PM  

Weird split oncomments. Easy for me too and. I am not too good either.

Anonymous 10:40 PM  

Way back when, "Pipe Dreams" was "The Colonial News," and I was one of the editors for a time. As students, we were expected to use English correctly, and our weekly (yes weekly, in every required course) themes were often downgraded for any writing errors.

Judging by Rex's comments on the NYTimes puzzles, the standards are still high at Binghamton.

Tita 10:42 PM  

SLAKE is a great word to say.

I am so not a fan of quote puzzles. But, there were lots of fun words/clues... And, it was EINSTEIN...

I love shepard's pie - my mom makes 2 varieties - one with MASHED taters, another with rice!!
And thanks to her, and her love of card games & solitaires, I knew what the kings hold.

Remember a recent squabble here over Battleship - yes, I agree with OFL that HTEN is an abomination, but, the game, played with only a pencil and graph paper in the car during roadtrips, evokes fabulous memories as wee tykes in the back of the Ford Tempest station wagon on the way to everywhere.

@chefwen - lol re your red shoes in the red light district!!

@lms - RPI (a very xwordy school) has a Hall Hall. My brother, who went there, figured some guy named Hall made it his life's ambition to donate enough moolah to have a dorm named after him.
The RA would answer the phone there as "Hall Hall...who in the Hall do you want?"

Welcome, Old New Yorker!

Mr. Savoy - thanks for the puzzle. I rulel it a wild success, as it has inspired one of hte most eclectic and diverse set of comments I ever done 'sperienced here in Rexville!

Steve Savoy 12:28 AM  

Thanks for the closing remarks Tita. Agreed- eclectic comments and a wide dynamic range on the solvability meters today. I enjoyed reading them all, even anonymous ones with punitive measures! Loved the face-plant, Rex. I think that's the way all six-letter entries ending in J are made.
See you soon, but no sooner than my 30 day time-out!


xyz 10:14 AM  

Challenging, but all done since I know knee jerk rote and lots of dross. If this was a great puzzle, that's really a shame. The fill was just awful.

Anonymous 12:23 PM  

Today's puzzle was NOT fun.

Anonymous 10:34 PM  

Source matters. Describing the Einstein quote as "insipid" lacks INSIGHT.

spacecraft 10:49 AM  

OFL calls it faceplant; I call it "control your cat." As if. He goes on to list a fairly long queue of no-nos, yet is persuaded to say that, for the density, the fill isn't THAT bad. Dude, the fill is--as per two clues--"inedible." Yes, the quote is catchy, though meaningful only to those who think on a much higher plane than most of us, such as the speaker. And yes, the inclusion of the full name--intersecting--is a huge achievement. But the price is exORBitant. Not a constructor, I don't know how much of the dreck could possibly be cleaned up, but surely SOME of it.

As to the difficulty, I found it no more than medium. Dare I HOPE for improvement as the week plods on? Or is that IDEA ABSURD?

Three 8's is the best I can do today.

spacecraft 11:26 AM  

Just had to come back and share this psychedelic moment: in today's comics the following exchange appeared:

Frank: I'd quit MARAUDing if it weren't for my kid's college fund.

Ernest: It takes a pillage to raise a child!

Anonymous 12:56 PM  

Wow, lots of kvetching. Started out impossible for me, but slowly the light began to dawn and I became delighted with the view. Got Albert Einstein early, but last word to see was 'absurd'.
To say this quote is insipid is absurd.

Solving in Seattle 1:59 PM  

Don't usually like quote xwpuzs, but as @Tita mentioned, the comments evoked by this puzzle have been great. Steve Savoy, thank you for your Wedpuz and for showing up on the blog. Also for the clue shoutout to the actress, Dame Judi Quench.

My shenanigan was a prank before becoming an ANTIC.

@Spacy, thanks for sharing the comic. Lol. And for not throwing a flag on Steve for his fill. Check out Andrea's comments about fill as the glue holding the good stuff together.

There once was a BORDELLO in Amsterdam... (there's gotta be a limerick here somewhere.)

out of the game today, just a scrambled word for my capcha.

Go Hawks!

gail 2:28 PM  

Hi Rex,
Have to say I just LOVE your blog and reading all the posts. I'm a syndicated solver so I (along with the help of my husband) just (almost) completed the Wed Dec 13th puzzle today. Got stumped on one small thing :( but I laughed out loud when I read your comments. Solving a puzzle is definitely only half the fun :).

Ginger 3:52 PM  

@gail Welcome to Syndiland Your comments and opinions are welcome here.

Surprised at the rating, I couldn't write fast enough. Yesterday's puz just chewed me up and spit me out, but today's solved like an easy Monday.

@Acme YES It's the glue!

There are a lot of clues referencing other clues which makes for a tougher solve on line. IMO this is why there is such a huge difference in difficulty ratings and @sanfranman's ratings are all driven by on line solvers.

@DMG The conditions at the Aussie Open are brutal, but a lot of the tennis has been spectacular.

@SIS Go Hawks, but I think Sunday's game is gonna be a tough one.

rain forest 4:05 PM  

I suppose that if Einstein believed that the idea of a dice-playing god is absurd, then it has merit. I liked the quote, and in general I like quote puzzles.

This played medium for me. I noticed all the three-letter stuff, which is impossible to avoid, unless you are Joe Krozel, but I kind of like finding which 3-letter word is embedded.

DNG 4:23 PM  

Guess it's true that "one man's meat is another man's poison". Breezed through this one, and fully expected it to be rated something like "ABSURDly easy". My only hesitation was JOHN, wondering what could possibly end in J. But of course good old SGTMAJ did. I fear that the ease of this has set me up for the late week disasters II seem to be experiencing lately.

Enjoyed what little I comprehended of the "physics talk". I"m one of those who listens raptly to the likes of Brian Green, thinking I get that, only to find I really didn't. But I keep trying.

Captcha: Another full house three 5's, two 6's. Think I'll fold.

Anonymous 4:31 PM  

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Acme. No one could have said it better. Over time I've noticed when Rex rants over minutia there ensues similar growling from the first set of commenters. Could it be the lambs influenced by that big old bad shepherd? Me thinks so.

It might be an age thing, as already mentioned, but I found this puzzle very easy and definitely interesting. Quotes are OK by me, especially when uttered by worthwhile people.

I sometimes wonder if Mr. Sharp's attitude and remarks would improve if they were made in the morning after a good night's rest.

Ron Diego (A little older than Pope Leo I) 1:30 PM 1/15/14

Dirigonzo 5:09 PM  

I did the puzzle right after finishing a novel by a Dutch writer ('The Dinner' by Herman Koch), which has nothing whatsoever to do with the puzzle and I mention it only because of all the discussion of Amsterdam in the earlier comments. I like quote puzzles and I thought this was a fine example. As to the nattering nabobs of negativism, I just skip over them.

@DMG - you should have stayed in the game. Your boat beats my two pair.

Waxy in Montreal 9:36 PM  

Other than SUIT before SUER(?) thought this was much easier than Monday & Tuesday; quite surprised by its C-rating. Loved MUFTI & SGTMAJ - reminiscent of British films (all of them) set in the empah.

Had never heard this Albert Einstein quotation before though it certainly sounds like something he'd say. My fav is Spooky Action at a Distance, his description for quantum entanglement, a phenomenon which he clearly found ABSURD.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP