Bond girl Andress / TUE 2-25-14 / Tomato lettuce pickers org / Many Persian Gulf war correspondent / Madrid tidbit

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Constructor: Matthew E. Paronto and Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: CROSSWORDESE (55A: What this puzzle's capitalized clues are, both by definition and pun) — capitalized clues are all examples of CROSSWORDESE (common, overused crossword fill) that start with E (hence the pun, "crossword E's")

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: UFW (38A: Tomato and lettuce pickers' org.) —
The United Farm Workers of America (UFWA) is a labor union created from the merging of two groups, theAgricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) led by Filipino organizer Larry Itliong, and theNational Farm Workers Association (NFWA) led by César Chávez. This group was originally a workers' rights organization that helped workers get unemployment insurance but rapidly became a union offarmworkers. The shift occurred when the NFWA went out on strike in support of the mostly Filipino farmworkers of the AWOC in DelanoCalifornia who had previously initiated a grape strike on September 8, 1965. The NFWA and the AWOC, recognizing their common goals and methods, and realizing the strengths of coalition formation, jointly formed the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee on August 22, 1966.This organization was accepted into the AFL-CIO in 1972 and changed its name to the United Farmworkers Union. (wikipedia)
• • •

First, you shouldn't celebrate this stuff. Second, you shouldn't celebrate this stuff in a puzzle that contains this stuff, in abundance (OBOE, EXE, NIN, LAN, IBIS, AFRO, ONO, REE). I don't see the humor and I don't see the point. The "pun" doesn't do much to mitigate the pointlessness. I guess one might get a mild chuckle after figuring out what the pun is (i.e. "crossword E's). But it would have to pretty darned mild. Neither the clues nor the answers display any wit, any sparkle. I am all for repurposing crosswordese for crossword purposes, and I've seen it done well, but this? Why? Conventional clues for CROSSWORDESE are trite and dull, and so the theme answers are … just that. CLOWN AROUND is a nice answer (25D: Be a goof), but you can have the rest. Fun CLOWN fact: top NFL draft prospect JADEVEON CLOWNEY has 15 letters in his name—a perfect grid-spanning length.

What else to say? Not much. Finished in just over 3, which is pretty fast for me. Not a lot of resistance here. I hesitated a bit at [Relatively near] because I expected a comparative adjective, i.e. something ending in -ER. I let NOT FAR into the grid entirely based on crosses. The clue on EMBED is fairly contemporary, and a highlight in this otherwise pretty bland offering. How do you give KIEV such a bland, fill-in-the-blank clue (14D: Chicken ___) when it's such a major political hotspot at the moment? I guarantee you the city is mentioned in the NYT. Today. Come on, man. My friend Matt just pointed out that the "Asian-American" in the LIN clue is unnecessary—you'll note there's no corresponding "African-American" for ISIAH Thomas. Speaking of BARN owls … which I am doing now … reader "Jen from CT" posted some crazy owl pictures to the FB page of The Great Backyard Bird Count yesterday. They were taken with an infrared, motion-activated camera. Here's a detail, which I'm considering making my new FB avatar.


Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Moly Shu 12:11 AM  

I usually mildly to vehemently disagree with @rex, but today, 99% agree. Slog for me. I did like BANANASPLIT, but being on a diet...,,

Amnesia Czarla Momas 12:17 AM  

Oh, crossword E's...I thought the pun was crossword EASE, like it helps you with the crossword.
So technically, I didn't understand the reveal of a Tuesday puzzle...yikes!

Love Jeff Chen, but wasn't crazy about the inside-y-ness esp about a weakness of construction, tho necessity.
Folks have suggested a puzzle about crosswordese before and I've balked.
Maybe now that it's been done, there can be an end to that discussion on some level.

Loved the downs CLOWNAROUND and BANANASPLIT both of worth seem theme worthy or reveals of their own puzzles.

Perhaps Matthew Paronto can put his clearly creative mind to that!

Jisvan 12:17 AM  

Going through Olympics withdrawal, I might have wanted a little bit more bite, but I did enjoy the in-your-face all caps ETUI, etc! Okay Tuesday in my book. (Now what did I say I would do if I finished the puzzle early...Maybe more limericks?)

George Barany 12:19 AM  

This puzzle is the latest example of the generosity of Jeff Chen, who is making quite the habit of teaming up with aspiring constructors to get their ideas into publishable form. Another one of Jeff's collaborators, who is a regular contributor to these pages, recently celebrated a personal milestone. Some friends of mine honored this regular Rexite with Connecticut Transfer, which we trust you'll enjoy.

jae 12:22 AM  

Cute idea and easy for me too.  Nice long downs plus URSULA.  Liked it more than Rex did. 

A. Virgin 12:34 AM  

Could someone please explain to me why I find URSULA going down ever so much better than across?

wreck 12:37 AM  

I'm guessing everyone here ripped right through this one!! I had a perpetual grin on my face while solving; looking forward to both the review and comments to come.
As for the puzzle, I did not particularly like it, but the aforementioned "grin" I had made it fun!

Numinous 12:54 AM  

There are clues in a puzzle that tease.
There are other clues there that don't please:
All the words so absurd,
They so rarely are heard;
It's the language we call crosswordese!

I promise, this is my last. I won't write another here.

I had to chuckle doing this. I have the feeling that Jeff and Matthew are taking the piss out of us, especially @Rex whom I just knew would find dreck in the fill.

I didn't like this but I didn't hate it. Like @wreck, it made me smile. Way too easy for a Tuesday though.
Let's keep our tongues in our cheeks and read the comments at xwordinfo.

RnRGhost57 12:55 AM  

It's official. Rex has advanced beyond curmudgeon and is now a humorless and pinch-faced crossword Pharisee.
Congratulations . . . next level is sour misanthrope a la Mark Twain in his dotage.

Unknown 12:58 AM  

@wreck even me. Fast for a Tuesday, and a no-error submission is always surprising news.

The only quasi observation regards the unconventional spelling of ISIAH Thomas, given its conventional pronunciation, as if it were Isaiah. Did that confuse anyone? CLOWNAROUND falls in the heels of JOKESAROUND. Could this a prepositional greenpaint-ism?

Garth 1:36 AM  

What a fun solve.

There's no way of knowing if it was the constructors' intention to gently poke fun at the crossword community that takes itself a little too seriously at times,* but I'm enjoying considering that possibility.

Of course there's also no way of knowing how much of Rex's snits are:

-a reflection of his desire to improve the quality of the NYT crossword puzzles
-a fun hobby of his
-meant purely for entertainment value
-a reflection of someone who enjoys having snits
-a way to poke the hive with a stick to foment interest in his blog
-all of the above
-none of the above

And Rex ain't telling.

*mea culpa

chefwen 1:37 AM  

I whipped through this one before I even knew I started it. Super easy but fun.

Banana split reminded me of a drawing @Gil I.P. did of @LMS falling on a banana splat. You had to be there. Think it was on the same day she did a drawing of me in a grass skirt dancing on a table after drinking Sake. Fun stuff.

Some jerk made a comment over at Crossword Corner about constructors not attending the ACPT because of OFL, no proof and hiding behind Anonymous. So chicken shit! He/she needs to be aware of our loyalty, well anyway, mine.

Garth 1:40 AM  

@cascokid san: Yes, the spelling of Isiah did confuse me.

chefwen 1:41 AM  

@Numinous, please don't stop!

Steve J 2:05 AM  

Nice idea that just didn't work for me. Making fun of CROSSWORDESE is a worthwhile venture and something that needs to be done. But this did not have any SNARK to it at all. It just repeated common answers and definitions. That just reiterates the repetivitiveness of it. The puzzle needed to have some clever twist, not just a simple recitation of what regular solvers already know.

If you're not a regular solver, I can't imagine this will be a fun or helpful theme. As Acme said, it's pretty insidery. Those of us who comment here regularly will get it, but how many periodic or strictly early-week solvers will?

Maybe it was because I was expecting the twist that never came, but I found this clunky and not easy (about a medium Tuesday for me). Again, I really wish there had been a twist (beginning with E is not one; that's a mere correlation), because the subject deserves one.

retired_chemist 2:58 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired_chemist 3:09 AM  

Easy for those of us who solve regularly, probably kinda weird for those not fluent in CROSSWORDESE. I am with those who question whether this should have been published at all.

I have been a basketball fan for decades, so ISIAH was a no-brainer. I agree the unusual spelling makes it a tough fill for those who aren't.

Other than the theme, I didn't find the puzzle objectionable.

On to Wednesday.

jae 3:20 AM  

OK, one of the reasons I liked this more than Rex is because I was one of the "folks" who suggested to Andrea that a "crosswordese" puzzle might be a good idea. I stopped coming up with crossword ideas pretty much immediately after that. Not because of Andrea, but because it's hard and I was having a lot more fun solving.

@casco, Garth -- I had to correct aNN to INN because of my ISIAH spelling problem.

Anonymous 3:42 AM  

I am going to assume KIEV is a subtle hint of support of the current revolution. Will Shortz is a tricksy SOB.

Clark 4:02 AM  

I thought it was fun. Put me down, @cascokid san, for confusion on ISIAH. I, being a terrible speller, have enough trouble with the regular spelling. It looked all wrong, but the crosses convinced me. Maybe I'll remember both Isaiah and Isiah after today.

JTHurst 4:40 AM  

Rex said Monday was challenging and today was easy. I found both puzzles to be uniformly easy and engaging.

I thought some of the answers were great. Yesterday and today you had alternating 'A' down answers with amalgamated and banana. You also had reels and rods that are both units of measurements before they were fishing equipment. The rod is your basic measure of farm land in the USA with 160 rods to the acre and a reel was the basic measure of cotton on a spool. Though I have never heard of the usage of snark as describing sarcasm, I believe a better clue would have been, Who lives on an island with the Jubjub and the Bandersnatch? And is a 'snark' hunt the predecessor of the 'snipe' hunt?

Riddle-me-this: Why do puzzles without current rap star and actress clues require half as much time to solve? Who doesn't enjoy Anais Nin and old spelling czar references.

PS If could spell I would probably cut my time in half.

Danp 5:16 AM  

This puzzle was a masterful piece of SNARK. And while it was a mild poke in the ribs of serious cruciverbalists, it was also a perfect Monday/Tuesday puzzle, as it teaches newer solvers the words you need to know by Thursday. Even Needlecase and Fencing Blade had that "just kidding" vibe.

It also seemed to have a secondary theme - NYC: Moma, Gotti, Lin, Isiah, Smog, even MSG and NYET. Not to offend those who prefered Maleska puzzles, but I always felt that you used to have to know New York and its culture to finish his puzzles. LIRR and ADAR were just were just a different ESE vocabulary.

Anonymous 6:07 AM  

Yes, it was easy, and yes, it celebrated bad crosswords, but it was entertaining on a level. Could it have been worse- well, it could have been all opera or all sports references, both go into excruciating levels of detail for me to remember without good crosses.

To me it was a lark, and not as bad as some rate here.

schmuzz 6:18 AM  

originally from detroit so ISIAH will always be in my back pocket

(go tigers!---you and me @Z)

and ps - i'm not a very good evaluator - i like all puzzles even those with bad fill - i guess because i'm not a constructor?

Glimmerglass 7:05 AM  

I think the pun is "crossword ease." "E's" isn't much of a pun. It's charitable to think that this puzzle satirizes easy crossword constructors, but for me it wasn't fun, because it's too easy (even for a Tuesday). So I didn't find the theme amusing. @A. Virgin: Ursula going down is probably a common fantasy.

dk 7:19 AM  

🌕🌕🌕 (3 Moons) I found the puzzle enjoyable and for a first outing very clever. Why not poke fun at what every constructors both deride and use at the drop of a pin… from an etui?

What I also find enjoyable is Rex's evolution as a critic. He seems to be moving out of the adolescent phase of " I know so much more" to establishing a dialogue both with his audience and the constructors. Read George Plimpton for a look at what Rex may become… at least in xworld.

And Virgin, My father called her URSULA undress and that may resolve your issue…. or not.

Jen from CT: Once I find the photo of the Pileated Woodpecker on my window screen screaming nevermore I will send it your way.

dk 7:19 AM  

remove the every from the above please and thank you

jberg 7:51 AM  

Well, I guess I found it more fun than some, but it sure was easy. Ideally, there would have been no 4-letter answers, but that would have been tough to construct. Also no MADD in the clues, to keep the purity of the all-caps theme clues. Minor problems, though.

An EPEE isn't a blade, it's the whole weapon, but I guess you can consider BLADE as synecdoche, if that's the right term (part for the whole). (I only said that so I could type in synecdoche, a word I love.)

Yeah, Putin and KIEV, this puzzle is more topical than it looks.

Unknown 8:02 AM  

Was not amused.

AliasZ 8:11 AM  

Wouldn't it have made more sense to have all the CROSSWORDESE clues contain at least two Es? ÉPÉE and ERNE were perfect, but there are plenty others: Esme, Elle, Elke, Erté, Elie, eely, etc. Perhaps that could have given it that little extra SNARK and twist some of us were lacking in this one.

But I liked BANANASPLIT, ART FILM, ORACLE, and a few other long downs.

- I take URSULA any way I can.
- What do Chinese menus have to do with Madison Square Garden?
- Has anyone ever eaten only one TAPA?
- Watching an ART FILM induces AMNESIA, which is why they were symmetrically paired.
- And you can SINGE an ego or two with a little SNARK - another fine pair.
- LEAN-TOS or leans to?

Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672), the German composer and organist put together a large collection of church music for chorus and orchestra called Psalmen Davids (PSALMS of David), from which this is Psalm 150: Alleluja! Lobet den Herren.
For those who say Nat-ick as NAY-tick:
To you I say Yuck! or its mate Ick!
Don't be such a fumer,
Buy a sense of humor
And visit your fave dominatric.

I like to CLOWN AROUND...

Enjoy your day.

Z 8:46 AM  

Michigan can lay claim to two of the three greatest guards of all time, ISIAH Thomas and Magic Johnson (Oscar Robertson would be the third), so no problem with the shorter spelling of ISaIAH here.

@schmuzz - Wife and I debated between country and city as post "last-child-going-to-college" location. Finally settled on city. From our new front door to my seats in section 129 is a six minute walk. Yes, I am ready for the season. There are some other Tiger fans here about.

Love the whimsy in this puzzle. To say this stuff "shouldn't be celebrated" is to miss the point. Does Animal House celebrate drunkenness? Does National Lampoon's Vacation celebrate wood paneled station wagons? Does We're the Millers celebrate pot dealing? Or are they all poking us in the eye, nyuck, nyuck?

Finally, to make an argument that I'm not really sure I agree with, Mr. LIN's Asian-American background was specifically germane to his celebrity, a large part of why he had his fifteen minutes of fame. While to a much lesser degree, it is akin to saying that Jackie Robinson's African American background shouldn't be mentioned.

Unknown 8:49 AM  

@AliasZ's limerick critics, the young man from Natick limerick is funnier if read aloud with hard Amy's throughout, viz., "ay-ttic" and "emph-ay-tic", a classic Limerickian conceit, as I'm sure ole @Al intended.

@Garth, @RnRGhost57 I have two theories of @Rex. First, he is to that Binghamton professor (who buys the bandwidth and cashes the checks) as Stephen Colbert is to Stephen Colbert. That is, clearly different, and yet really not.

The second theory, which involves professing at a state school, water fowl, and Rex's own favorite beef about Occam's Razor, recalls one of Richard Russo's early works. I'll have to reread it before I say whether Rex is the protagonist or one of the many odd foils. But is it surprising that Rex would be prominent in a state-funded, dystopian Greek tragicomedy, fully cognizant of his doom, powerless to improve his situation, and pivoting angry-RIPOSTES into cross-words to find transient respite? With comic books? And NOIR? This life-replicates-art moment is so delicious it deserves more than a paragraph in a blog.

Carola 8:58 AM  

I was giving the puzzle "nice try" points (I liked the idea but felt it fell a little flat) but like it more after @acme's suggestion of "CROSSWORD EASE" - there's been many a Friday and Saturday when CROSSWORDESE saved me - and @Danp's pointing out SNARK.

I liked the cross of CROSSWORDESE and WORN.

@jberg - Your remark about synecdoche brought a smile - along with metonymy it's in my list of words I love but whose meaning I fail to retain. Also don't ask me about atavistic or inchoate. I did finally learn crepuscular. Now I want a limerick on this theme :)

Mohair Sam 9:15 AM  

Delightful Tuesday, we enjoyed this a lot. Disagree with pretty much every word of Rex's comments today. If anything this puzzle needed more crosswordese to go with the theme. KIEV clue was fine - putting current events clues into puzzles might lead to embarrassment and certainly will date the thing in about a week.

SNARK might better be clued as "pointing out that LIN is clued with Asian-American and ISIAH is not clued with African-American." The fact that Lin is the only Asian-American to succeed in the NBA is exactly why non-NBA fans will know his name, it is a Tuesday after all.

On a Saturday I'd clue LIN as "Quality 6th man in Houston who tore up the league until they closed the passing lanes and made him try to beat them with the J" and ISIAH as "Sometimes President and sometimes coach of the New York Knicks who completely destroyed the franchise".

Yikes Rex - now someone is going to put the unspellable Jadeveon Clowney into a puzzle. Probably on NFL draft day. Not a bad idea when you think about it.

Anyhow - loved the puzzle, it was a refreshing twist. Thanks Jeff Chen and Matthew Paronto.

Ludyjynn 9:24 AM  

This was a refreshing change from Last Tuesday's outing. But it was easier than Monday, and should have run then, IMO.

@A.Virgin, your comment made this solve worthwhile; still chuckling as I type this.

@DanP, I agree w/ the NYC references being a pleasure, and as a former Jersey girl, believe we should see more of them...this is the NEW YORK Times, after all.

Snow flurries this morning, again. UGH, already!

chefbea 9:29 AM  

Really loved this puzzle…those who follow me on Facebook know of my love for puns!!!

@Numinous I agree - keep the puns coming

Garth 9:29 AM  

@Cascokid san: Ah yes. "Straight Man" by Richard Russo. The funniest book about academia to date.

I think both of your theories could be spot on. Now if there was only a way to prove or disprove them. I guess armchair psychology via the blogosphere does have its limitations.

quilter1 9:38 AM  

Well, I liked it. Nobody has mentioned that the usual clues for the theme words are the answers, which added to my enjoyment. Smiled all the way. It is satire, folks. But where is Miss Eyre?

Sir Hillary 9:41 AM  

Don't get @Rex's vitriol today, but it's his nickel and a free country.

@Mohair Sam -- Big LOL on your Saturday clues for LIN and ISIAH. You were actually kind to the latter -- don't get me started on that clown(ey). And why isn't LEBRON in more crosswords?

johnnymcguirk 9:52 AM  

Agree with Z. Maybe you're not a basketball fan but Linsanity was all about first Chinese American NBA player, neglected out of high school by the big schools, went to Harvard. Great story. I Thomas, African American, aman bites dog.

johnnymcguirk 9:53 AM  

I mean dog bites man duh.

Stan N. 9:59 AM  


Norm 10:05 AM  

I liked it.

Masked and Anonymo5Us 10:13 AM  

DUI! Duck brother of... well, you know.

LTR - weeject with all the crossword E's sucked out of it.

EXE - Maybe shouldn't be here, since it's kinda like a themer in reverse. But it is a neat X pallindromer. Precious in its rarity... duck brother of OXO.

4-Oh: GDay-um, sunshine. Now OBOE is on the snark list? Bein a nice, fresh four-letter crossdoor wheeze word is gettin pretty tough to pull off, in these parts.

Ain't UFW rich?
Are REE a pair?
M&e religiously sofa bound,
U bein so rare...
Where are the CLOWNS?

Don't we digress?
Don't HEW approve?
One who keeps tearin AROUND,
One who don't move...
Where are the clowns?
Send in the

Lacks Character 10:16 AM  

Someone please explain 29D to me, if it's already been done, I missed it.

Now ... for the puzzle, it was very easy and not good enough to be tongue in cheek. It could have been all ROTE fill as that's what crosswordese really is. It's a knee-jerk reaction, I've been following this blog for easy access to answers for several years now, but my daughter is still pretty new to puzzling. She gets stumped a lot by these awful ROTE answers that barely need reading by an experienced puzzler.

The mechanical rigidity of puzzle rules necessitate the overuse of such words, it is a nit of mine all that must be to be a "proper puzzle". There's why Rex gets so niggardly about these puzzles. Blame the internet, too - so many puzzles, so many clues so much obscurity reduced to a reflex.


29D, someone, please? EMBED reporters?

Horace S. Patoot 10:27 AM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle myself, JMO. I also don't understand 29D EMBED. Many a reporter is EMBEDded, but I don't understand the present tense transitive verb.

Lacks Character 10:32 AM  

Gooogle (duh) seems sacreligious for crosswords yields:

fix (an object) firmly and deeply in a surrounding mass.
"he had an operation to remove a nail embedded in his chest"
synonyms: implant, plant, set, fix, lodge, root, insert, place; More
implant (an idea or feeling) within something else so it becomes an ingrained or essential characteristic of it.
"the Victorian values embedded in Tennyson's poetry"
place (a phrase or clause) within another clause or sentence.
incorporate (a text or code) within the body of a file or document.
design and build (a microprocessor) as an integral part of a system or device.
attach (a journalist) to a military unit during a conflict.
noun: embed; plural noun: embeds; noun: imbed; plural noun: imbeds
an embedded journalist.
"most of the embeds found themselves covering construction and civil works projects"

So the tense is wrong for the clue used

Unknown 10:37 AM  

@Horace S. Patoot @Lacks Character,
EM'-BED, the neologistic nominified noun-of-a-verb, not EM-BED', its verb root.

"MacKenzie McHale was an embed in Iraq for three years before being named Executive Producer of ACN's New Night with McAvoy."

Bob Kerfuffle 10:41 AM  


Puzzle was good for a laugh.

Rex's write-up was good for a laugh.

Jen's owl pic was good for a laugh!

M and Also 10:43 AM  

@Bob K:
Good fer another laugh...

Themeless M&A

Two Ponies 10:46 AM  

I enjoyed the inside joke. Like @ quilter1 I also liked the reversal of the usual clue/answer in the theme. Nothing wrong with poking a bit of fun at ourselves. And after all, it IS Tuesday.

mathguy 10:49 AM  

Numinous: Nice limerick!

I think that some commenters don't like to hear any criticism at all. Rex's essay was only mildly critical. The puzzle deserved to be criticized. As Rex pointed out, a work that makes fun of mediocrity should not itself be mediocre.

GILL I. 10:54 AM  

Oh, I don't know, I thought this was a HOOT and maybe because I'm easily amused I enjoyed this "In Your Face"
Is there a difference between CZAR and TZAR? or is it just a spelling preference....I guess you could call Putin one NYET?
@Chefwen...Hah! I remember that splat well. By the way, how was your lunch yesterday. I bought the soup!
@M&A. Are REE a pair!!! You are funnier than SEX.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:28 AM  

@M&A - Thought I was getting better, but maybe not:

Total time: 9 min 41 sec; had to use Reveal Letter once at end to re-think cross of 5 D and 15 A; still haven't figured out the meaning of 13 A.

Otherwise, some great clues. And I am learning to look for the "U"s!

Thank U!

Lewis 11:35 AM  

Oh, I think it's okay if for once or twice a year the NYT crossword puzzle is targeted toward crossword fanatics (who understand and have some opinion re crosswordese). Remember, Will has many subgroups to please, why not let us be one of them?

I mildly smiled at the theme, thinking though, that there must be a better way to do this. I do think it would be funny to come up with a puzzle with all crosswordese, but I'm not sure it would have a successful reception.

A puzzle with much crosswordese
Is as painful as scraping your knees
Raising lament
And emitting a scent
As ugly as that of Febreze

mac 11:45 AM  

This was definitely grin-worthy. I agree with @Two Ponies word for word. I think "crosswordese" is just "crosswordese". Or toe holds.

Last Silver Sondheim 11:59 AM  

@Bob K. . . Did U ever try givin yer wife a small kitchen gadget for her anniversary gift? Don't work, worth a sacka potatoes. Voice of experience, here.

Don't U love OBOEs?
Your fault, I fear.
I thought that you'd like a woodwind...
Sorry, bum steer.
And where's all the clowns
Them digressin clowns
Don't bother, I'm here.

M&A, Crosswordgeezer.

DigitalDan 12:03 PM  

Numinous: That's WHO, not WHOM. Oh, well.

It's Tuesday. This was a new idea. I liked it.

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

Really liked it. Found it easy. I guess I'll never be a crossword "insider" because, if you're cool, apparently you're not supposed to like it, and if it's easy, you're supposed to be done in 3 minutes, not 7. Oh well.

Noam D. Elkies 1:13 PM  

One problem with giving a contemporary clue for 14D:KIEV is that the Ukrainian spelling Київ should really be transliterated KYIV: calling it KIEV (from Russian Киев) could be taken to implicitly support Russian claims on Ukraine's affiliation.

DSinDC 1:30 PM  

@Garth was right on the money. I had fun on this puzzle! I'm a regular reader of this blog, but Rex's near-relentless haterade often makes me wonder why...

Numinous 1:33 PM  

As something of a Nod to @AliasZ's musical posts and a tilt of the hat to iconoclasm, everyone except OISK should take a look at this: You'll never think of the cello in the same way again! Today I discovered some astonishing musicians and I just had to share.

Dick Swart 1:39 PM  

I took this puzzle, indeed one of the fills is 'snark', as a cynical put-down (part of another clue) on the quality of the NYT fill as often noted by our fearless leader.

I only do the NYT puzzle, so these questions:

1. Do other puzzle sources have their own particular jargon?

2. Do constructors keep in mind the outlet and this jargon when constructing?

Bird 1:40 PM  

Liked it. Thought it was about time we get a puzzle that pokes fun at crosswords.

Numinous 1:51 PM  

@Dick Swart,

1. Croswordese seems pretty consistent across most XW platforms.

2. I can't speak for constructors in general but I would say that they try to keep the uglier three and four letter words to a minimum but the fact remains, whether we like them or not, we need them. They are essential for building triple and quad stacks and without them good solutions with good clues (rather than mundane give-away clues) would not be possible. Some wonderful AHA! moments come from answers that can only be gleaned by virtue of getable crosses.

It's fine to rail against and to lament croswordese, especially the TRITEst, the LAMEst, the INANEst, but they are the EVILest of necessaries that make crosswords possible. Considering the millions of crossword puzzles that have been constructed in the last hundred years, how fresh can one be?

okanaganer 2:03 PM  

@numinous, thanks for the awesome 2Cellos video. Like Apocalyptica, but better!

Anonymous 2:19 PM  


Thanks for the pic of the barn owl. Currently it's my number one nemesis bird.

Numinous 2:28 PM  

Ok, getting on for a million. Commonwealth cryptic crosswords account for well over a hundred thousand in that narrow category. The Guardian crossword for last Friday is number 26,189. The Times has published around that many as has The Daily Telegraph, the Mirror, The Mail, the Scottish Herald and then there are the Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian. Several papers in New Zealand have their own too. Most of these papers have what they call "Quick Crosswords" which are American style synonym puzzles which they present along side of their cryptics. How many puzzles have been published in how many American newspapers? Currently, I believe there are at least five different puzzles every day. If they had all started a hundred years ago, which they didn't but if they did, that would be 182,000 puzzles. How many others have there been? I don't really know, but it's a hell of a lot.

I don't know if the NYTXW is the cream of the cream but it has the reputation. Will Shortz has the reputation of being the best editor of crosswords around. He's been the the editor at the NYT for 20 years or so. Let's see, that means he's published around 7,300 puzzles selected from the hundreds of puzzles submitted weekly. That he manages to pick any at all seems amazing. I have to assume he picks the best at his disposal considering that his criteria must be so much broader than the quality of three and four letter words in a puzzle. But it's also the case that he'll send a puzzle back for revision if some of those are too ICKY.

Having tried constructing much easier to do cryptics, I have the greatest respect for anyone who can pull it off. Even @Rex who really does nothing more than long for a more perfect world (albeit in his own imaginings).

Kudos to Jeff and Matthew and everyone here who constucts.

LaneB 2:45 PM  

Relative.y easy, especially for a puzzle with which Chen is associated. But clever and fun to solve. Made my day.

Dick Swart 2:54 PM  

@ numinous

Thank you, numinous, for your insights into the number if crossword and the need for immense quantities of fill to make them 'cross'.

It does seem to me, then. that the reward of the puzzle in surprise, humor, timeliness, subject of theme, if any, and growing progression of reference e.g.Mondy through Saturday are the criteria for a 'successful' puzzle rather than the necessary use of 'ibeam' words.

To use another cliche, the ski enthusiast can't do the run with out the 'tbar'.

Thank you again!

Benko 3:02 PM  

OBOE is crosswordese now, @Rex? Not exactly arcana.
Can we please recognize that there are perfectly legitimate words, used in the real world all the time (oboe and Afro), which happen to be grid-friendly? And that they are different from crosswordese that consists of words which are used pretty much only in crosswords?

Anonymous 3:26 PM  

stupidest puzzle ever

Numinous 3:30 PM  

@Digital Dan, had I used a semicolon instead of a comma, I'd have been right. That's the way I parsed the phrase as I wrote it.
I've said more than enough for one day, See y'all tomorrow!

Loren Muse Smith 4:01 PM  

Well, heck – some of the objections – the puzzle needs a "clever twist," "'E's' isn't much of a pun". . . I couldn't disagree more – as I was solving, trusting Chen, smiling knowingly at his trademark, beautiful downs, I was expecting a payoff, and CROSSWORDESE, for me, was terrific. As to the "insider" problem – years ago I was a regular solver, unaware of the blogosphere. I patiently explained to anyone who would listen that I called words like ETUI, EPEE, EMIR "CROSSWORDESE," thinking I had coined this really clever word. (FWIW, I thought I had coined "textese," "sext," and the bumper sticker "A waist is a terrible thing to mind" only to see that someone quicker beat me to the punch.) I would guess that plenty of solvers outside of this community got the joke.

I solved this at the Kia dealership this morning and then walked around peering into Sportages and Sorentos, thinking, hmm. . . MOTORIZE- IMPALA, INFINITY, ISUZU, INTREPID…

Then waiting at the hospital for my mother-in-law thinking HOSPITALIZE- IV DRIP, INTERNIST, INTENSIVE CARE. . . nah


CAPITALIZE- ISLAMABAD. Big fat dead end there.


Love, love, love @JenCT's picture of that owl. That looked like me a few years ago, caught red-handed in the middle of the night rifling through my son's Halloween candy stash looking to cadge some Butterfingers.

I like the name Anaïs. I like diacritics. From now on I want to be Løren Müse Smîth.

Look – I almost hate to beat this dying horse but. . .

Well he was quite allergic to gluten
But just could not resist that Fig Newton
The fans were surprised
But they took it in stride
When subjected to Vladamir Putin.

Matthew, Jeff – good work. Got a big smile out of me!

sanfranman59 4:36 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)

Tue 6:27, 8:16, 0.78, 1%, Easy

Top 100 solvers

Tue 4:13, 5:13, 0.81, 2%, Easy

Ray J 4:41 PM  

I’m still working my way through the archive and just did a December 2006 puzzle with ETUI clued as “German iPod holder”. WOE? I always thought it was French, though I suppose the French would add a cute accent. I asked Google Translate to detect the language and it said Polish. This is a case of confusion for me.

@M&A – I’ve been enjoying your Kiddie Pool puzzles. Thanks for putting them out there. I struggled today because I confidently entered turtlED at 2D and had a helluva time righting the ship after that.

Thanks also to @George Barany and Friends and everyone else here who post puzzles for enabling my addiction.

Outlaw M and A 5:33 PM  

@Ray J: Thanx.
@Bob K.: Ditto.
@Chen/Paronto: Ditto. ESE but enjoyed.


Unknown 6:15 PM  

fastest tuesday ever( likely) without much effort

chefbea 6:15 PM  

@Loren seeing your icon...where was ewer in the puzzle

Also loved your limerick

JenCT 6:26 PM  

@Rex: Glad you liked the pic!

@dk: I look forward to your Pileated photo.

@Anon 2:19: It's a Barred Owl. I'm curious, why is a Barn Owl your nemesis?

The camera also caught a fox and a raccoon.

@LMS: LOL at the image of you rifling through your son's Halloween stash.

My Mom always had to "inspect" our Halloween candy when we got home, on the pretense of looking for dangerous items. In reality, she just wanted to swipe the good chocolate...

John V 7:45 PM  

Late to the party as today was a travel day.

Liked it, especially the bit of a poke at the domain of puzzles and so forth.

I approach a puzzle anticipating that I will have fun solving it. I had fun solving this one.

Billy 8:51 PM  

@Numinous Keep on coming with the limericks! Love that.

Not so much the who/whom thing -- it's "who" whether you use a comma or not.

sanfranman59 1:46 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

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

Mon 6:19, 6:18, 1.00, 52%, Medium
Tue 6:27, 8:16, 0.78, 1%, Easy (3rd lowest ratio of 220 Tuesdays)

Top 100 solvers

Mon 4:19, 4:00, 1.08, 82%, Challenging
Tue 4:06, 5:13, 0.79, 0%, Easy (Lowest ratio of 220 Tuesdays)

Record-setting easy Tuesday by the numbers.

Natasha Hayes 6:53 PM  

Do you want your Ex back after a divorce

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Anonymous 7:26 PM  

Hello Leslie, nice of you to be reading this G. blah blah blah.

spacecraft 11:44 AM  

Well, I guess our syndie coordinator has finally been let go. But people: you gotta HIRE A REPLACEMENT! You can't just leave the post vacant!

As to today's bit of froth, I too smiled despite thinking: so what? Always like seeing self-funpoke.

Recalling URSULA's name in DRNO (future clue for "crossword-D's?") is "Honey Rider" puts me in mind of other equally double-entendred Bondchick names, especially the how-did-that-get-past-the-censors Pussy Galore.

"I must be dreaming."

Anyway, I somehow survived my own childhood, as well as that of three kids and two grandies, having never heard of REE. I happened to fill the grid in crosswise at this point, and upon seeing REE checked the clue. "Riddle-me-REE?" OK, if you say so. Weirdness.

Liked the long downs. The fill, chopped up as it was, seems to have been cleaned up as far as possible. While not brilliant, the hand of experience clearly shows.

A fun do? Sure. Scintillating? Uh, that would be a no. Can't have everything.

DMG 2:32 PM  

Enjoyed this one, a fun solve that seemed April Fool appropriate. Unlike @spacecraft, I knew REE, but that's because, like ETUI, etc., I learned it from crosswords. sometimes some of this stuff actually sinks in. The expression I grew up with was "riddle me this".

Two small pairs.

Solving in Seattle 3:21 PM  

FENCINGsword before BLADE the only writeover.
Kinda agree with the discussion about EMBED. Maybe Mathew, Jeff and Will really meant inBED. That would be the correct tense.

@DMG, I got this from google:
"There is no difference other than spelling. The traditional spelling is czar, while the more modern one is tsar. Both are equally acceptable. It is derived from Caesar, the same as the German Kaizer or Kaiser, and the Shah (khan) of Persia."

There was an EMIR with an ETUI
Who had a pet ERN he called Louie
(I'll finish it later)

Nines over twos.

rain forest 3:39 PM  

When saw the capitalized E words, I chuckled, or at least smiled quietly to myself. I immediately understood what was going on, and thought the revealer was clever.

Tribute to CROSSWORDESE? I don't think so. Just a bit of a lark, and we need that once in awhile, even if it gets trashed by @Rex.

This blog is becoming limerick city. How about a sonnet...?

“Forsooth” I say whene’er a puzzle I solve
And as the days progress, and they get hard,
I’m pleased to see my solving skill evolve.
And thus inspired I emulate The Bard.
....someone else can do the next ten lines.

Cute puz. Captcha daunting.

Two pair: 9s and 5s

Dirigonzo 4:45 PM  

Other than wanting the "Overused plot device in soaps" to be Affairs, I cruised through the grid with no problem - I even caught on to the "crosswordese as clue" gimmick early-on, and I liked it. If you can't get 'em in the grid, use 'em as clues - that's a good idea! (No SNARK intended.) I like to learns something new from the puzzle and today I learned that EMBED has become a noun.

Two pair - looks like @SiS' boat might float.

strayling 7:49 PM  

A lovely puzzle, poking fun at all the stale crossword cliches that constructors fall back on when they're just phoning it in. Hit a bit too close to home, Rex?

\ 2 pair. I suck at this game

cb77305 10:11 PM  

@siva - I think you're in the wrong site. @strayling - I couldn't have said it better. Loved the beginning of a sonnet above. AMBO, OLIO, OLEO, more if requested.

TimJim 1:34 PM  

Liked it, but it has been done before (although without the "E's" twist.)

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