Snowman in Disney's Frozen / TUE 9-23-14 / Jazz great named after Egyptian god / Everett player of Mr Bernstein in Citizen Kane / Lawrence who co-wrote two of Star Wars films / Roone who created Nightline 20/20

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Constructor: Gerry Wildenberg

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: GOLD NUGGETS (38A: Valuable finds suggested by the circled letters) — circled letters spell out gold if you read them … well, it looks like sometimes clockwise, sometimes counterclockwise …)

Word of the Day: "AGON" (65A: Stravinsky ballet) —
Agon (1957) is a ballet for twelve dancers, with music by Igor Stravinsky and choreography by George Balanchine. Composition began in December 1953 but was interrupted the next year; work was resumed in 1956 and concluded on April 27, 1957; the music was first performed on June 17, 1957 in Los Angeles conducted by Robert Craft, while the first stage performance was given by the New York City Ballet on December 1, 1957 at the City Center of Music and Drama, New York (White 1979, 490). The composition's long gestation period covers an interesting juncture in Stravinsky's composing career, in which he moved from a diatonic musical language to one based ontwelve-tone technique; the music of the ballet thus demonstrates a unique symbiosis of musical idioms. The ballet has no story, but consists of a series of dance movements in which various groups of dancers interact in pairs, trios, quartets etc. A number of the movements are based on 17th-century French court dances – sarabandgalliard and bransle. It was danced as part of City Ballet's 1982 Stravinsky Centennial Celebration. (wikipedia)
• • •

Coincidentally, I was reading about Charlie Chaplin just before starting this puzzle.

There are a host of problems here. With the exception of SOBE, the puzzle feels about a million years old, with crosswordese (NLERS RIATA AAR … those are consecutive!) and olde-timey names (MAGDA, AKINS, SLOANE, etc.) and then stuff like HE-GOAT and SLIPSLOP (!?) that I just didn't know what to make of. The puzzle was not well slotted on a Tuesday—too wide-open, too tough. But the main problem was that the grid-filling was not up to the challenge posed by the ambitious theme. That NLERS RIATA AAR line alone tells you, first, that the grid was hand-filled (you can malign computers all you like, but they help keep less expert constructors out of Junk City), and second, that it was hand-filled according to OLD-LINE standards. UNSTOW? BLATS? This is very, very rough. The core concept is OK—it would've been more elegant if the nuggets all read in one direction or the other, I think, but the theme isn't the problem. It's what the theme does to the fill that's the problem. The grid is just too demanding. The limitations imposed by the nuggets coupled with dauntingly wide-open corners just set the bar too high, and the puzzle couldn't get over.

  • 28A: Jazz great named after an Egyptian god (SUN RA) — the names were just *tough* on me today. I know who SUN RA is, but off the "S" I had no idea, and that corner also has SLOANE (unknown to me) and ALDO (also, weirdly, unknown to me), and an YSER clue that I didn't find easy at all (10A: W.W. I's Battle of the ___). Proper nouns beyond my ken really gummed things up.
  • 43D: Roone who created "Nightline" and "20/20" (ARLEDGE) — a name I know, but just screwed up badly today. For some reason I wanted "ALRIDGE" … "L" before "R" at any rate. And with SLIPSLOP next door (again I say "???"), and uncertainty about whether EASES or ALL'S were even right, well, proper names strike again. I wouldn't have minded so much if the fill had been (much) better.
  • 65A: Stravinsky ballet ("AGON") — stunning to me a. that this word is even in a Tuesday puzzle, and b. that this clue is considered Tuesday-appropriate. Proper nouns here aren't just beyond me—they're dated, marginal, and (most importantly) unnecessary. I'll take "AGON" as a a Stravinsky ballet on, say, a Friday or Saturday, if it's helping hold up a lovely stack or corner. Otherwise, pass. Especially on Tuesday, pass.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:01 AM  

Someone should unstow their head from their arse and stop begotting puzzles with godawful slipslop like hegoat. Everett Sloane? A gam of whales? In the sorry tradition of crossword-ese like “aswirl”, I declare this puzzle to be acrap with subpar fill. The gold nuggets bit was ok.

wreck 12:11 AM  

Pretty challenging for a Tuesday as well. The NE was especially tough: ALDO, SLOANE, SUNRA, and should have known YSER off the bat, but didn't from the clue. AGON was a ?? and "SO AND SO" for Scoundrel was a headscratcher as well.

Anonymous 12:13 AM  

Meh! Two stars being generous.

Clive Barnes 12:28 AM  

I finally get a chance to have one of my best, but unpublished (thank you very much NYTimes censors), reviews made public:

AGON NY City Ballet
Agony, City Ballet

jae 12:28 AM  

Yes, a tough Tues.  I would have been guessing in NE if it hadn't been for the theme.   I know YSER and AAR only from crosswords and ALDO was a WOE. 

SLIPSLOP and AGON were also WOEs.  

Then you have stuff like UNSTOW, ENS, SSE, NLERS, LOWED, NYM...not to mention the POCs.

Clever theme but I'm not sure the good outweighs the bad.  Or, pretty much what Rex said.

LHS 888 12:36 AM  

I'm always glad to complete a puzzle with no googles or errors. I finished in normal Tuesday time with only 2 write overs: pod before GAM and RANout before RANLOW.

I see in the dictionary that AMEBA is a variant, but I've always spelled it AMoEBA so that was a bit of crosswordese I didn't much care for.

Questinia 12:48 AM  

I liked it. Hand hewn or not, it had an idiosyncratic quality that felt loose.
Also the nuggets turned gold upon completion on the NYT app so there was a visual interest.

True RIATA AND AAR but this puzzle bore not the ELEMI of shame.

Steve J 12:49 AM  

Just nothing enjoyable here at all. TRUDGE, indeed.

Looking forward to seeing how never-met-a-puzzle-they-didn't-like folks will handle this one.

Anonymous 12:53 AM  

Pretty time-consuming for a Tuesday. Why did it run on this day of the week? says this is the constructor's debut puzzle. A strong debut, although obviously the additional constraints imposed by the gold nuggets ups the crosswordese content.

PLO is outdated.

Apparently, a "pod" of whales is a group that is family-related, whereas a GAM is a group that is not.

Whirred Whacks 1:15 AM  

GALA and GALAS appear often enough that I usually get them quickly.

But not tonight.

With "big balls" as the clue, I couldn't -- until the very end -- get out of the context of "courage" and "brash," - or - the context of "athletic implements."

Anoa Bob 1:31 AM  

Maybe four rather than six GOLD NUGGETS would have been better.

chefwen 2:40 AM  

O.K. let's try this again (thank you kitty for erasing another comment) being a new parent at my age, or any age, is not easy.

I really like this one (Hi Steve)
Thought it was pretty easy with only a couple of hesitations on my part. Guessed at the K in the KASDAN/AKINS and was right for a change. Everything I guessed at, SLOANE, AGON turned out correctly.

Smoke before STEAM at 69A and awhirl before ASWIRL at 48A (I like awhirl better) that was about it.

I've never heard or seen ALDO shoes or handbags, guess I need to go shopping more often. NOT!

monika singh 5:55 AM  

Weekend Gateways From Delhi Comment Thanks for sharing good information !

Tho 7:07 AM  

No good. ASORE is ADISGRACE. Add the crosswordese, unstow,

Glimmerglass 7:35 AM  

I agree that this puzzle is much harder than the usual Tuesday -- and that's fine by me! I liked it very much, despite the scattering of old-timey crossword-ese (AAR and YSER in the same corner!). The architecture of the "nuggets" was more complicated than Rex gives credit for. Half are clockwise, half counterclockwise. The locations are balanced: the NW is opposite the SE; NE opposite SW; N central opposite S central.

Lewis 7:42 AM  
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Lewis 7:44 AM  

It did have an ancient feel, but I don't mind a dip in the past every now and again. It just had a quirky feel, and I want quirky every now and again. OLDLINE, RANLOW, BEGOT, HEGOAT, BLATS, UNSTOW, SLIPSLOP, MAGDA, LOGE, and even GOLDNUGGETS -- that's just quirky. Will, bring on quirky every once in a while to shake up our groove. I'm not asking for dreck, just quirky.

NCA President 7:46 AM  

There are definitely times when I finish a puzzle and want back the time I spent on it. This one was definitely challenging but I can't complain. I used the theme fill to help me out in the NE and SE. It helped me get SLIPSLOP/LLDS (I can never remember what the law degree is) and SLOANE/ALDO (potential Natick crossing for me). So the little nuggets, whether clockwise or counterclockwise helped.

In agreement that there is a lot of old timey fill and other routine stuff...the kind of fill that I only know from the NYT crossword universe and the kind of fill that, unless you know those words, it will take you a long time to solve (I'm looking at you, AMEBA).

My last letter was the M in GAM/MAGDA. I know Zsa-Zsa and Eva, never heard of their other sister Magda. Ever. Poor Magda, all these years living in the shadow of the more famous Gabor sisters.

Lewis 8:00 AM  

Factoid: COLBY cheese was created in 1874 near the village of COLBY, Wisconsin, though it is no longer made there. It is sometimes mixed with Monterey Jack to produce a marbled cheese called Co-Jack.

Quotoid: "A PUN is the lowest form of humor, unless you thought of it yourself." Doug Larson

RAD2626 8:05 AM  

Never heard of a GAM other than as one of Lana (or Tina) Turner's legs. Thought puzzle was just a bear. Knew only a few of the proper names - ARLEDGE, AKINS and SUN RA; fortunately had enough GOLDS to help in all the sections and very cool that the revealer was dead center among all the nuggets. Just amazed - in a positive way - at those who thought the puzzle was easy.

Congratulations to Gerry Wildenberg on a very impressive feat of construction in his NYT debut; boo to Gerry Wildenberg for AMEBA.

chefbea 8:07 AM  

I agree..was tough for a Tuesday. Especially the north east and Agon. Had nerve for 8 across...big balls at first and rinsed for flossed.

Gotta go simmer some soup...going to be cold today
Happy first day of fall y'all.

Susan McConnell 8:18 AM  

I had the same problem with "big balls" as @Whirred Whacks. Am also LOLing at @Anonymous 12:01's coining of "acrap" - a word I can see myself using frequently.

Sometimes this blog feels like it should be titled "Rex Parker Seems to Hate Every NYT Crossword Puzzle" but today I had to agree with just about everything he pointed out.

About Me 8:21 AM  

Sloane crossing FOUR proper nouns did me in. Also had to guess at Akins Kasan crossing.

jberg 8:22 AM  

Medium for me, because of the theme -- would probably have been stumped inthe NE without it, but once I got YOGA the rest came easy.

Hated SLIPSLOP, but apparently it is a word. And, as has been said many times, an LLD is an honorary degree, not an advanced one.

I liked the clockwise/counterclockwise mix, but I didn't like the identity of the NE and SE nuggets. All the others are different, and there are 3 unused possible letter arrangements.

Thank you, Disney Corporation, for bringing us a new way to clue OLAF!

jberg 8:23 AM  

Wikipedia begins its AGON article with "an ancient Greek word in reference to several things." That would have been a great clue!

John V 8:24 AM  

Dnf. Could not get the NE. Agree the fill was, well......

AliasZ 8:25 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
AliasZ 8:29 AM  

I hope you don't mind of I try a few GOLD NUGGETS of my own.

- 40D fpoken by a perfon with a lifp foundf like a real word.
- I wonder if the ALDAS ever shopped at ALDO's at 17th & Fifth.
- Since when do you need big cojones to go to GALAS?
- If you think UNSTOW is not a word, EWER out of line.

MAGDA Gabor (née Gábor Magdolna, 1915-1997) was the eldest and prettiest (my opinion) of the three Gabor sisters. She was married six times, but ZsaZsa outdid her by three. Actor George Sanders married both of them. I wonder what that felt like...

In her honor, let me offer you perhaps the most perfect music ever composed, from the Anna MAGDAlena Notebook by J.S. Bach. The only problem with it, it's over too soon.

As is the following GOLD NUGGET:

by OGDEN Nash


Thank you, thank you very much.

ArtO 8:29 AM  

Ridiculous for Tuesday. Totally agree with @Rex. 'Nuff said.

Z 8:37 AM  

After yesterday's walk deep in the phalli I had to chuckle at seeing "Big balls" as a clue today. Then we get a BJ and the Bear clue which reminds me of the rock group Minus the Bear. I know. I know. I should grow up some day. But, hey, I liked this more than Rex probably because I got off to a smiling start.

The dead tree version has gray circles where the GOLD NUGGETS are found. My first thought on opening the paper was "ooh, Twister." The NW went in easily, so I had the G of the central themer and the first "nugget" so I had the theme very early. That really helped as I never saw AGON, which I would not have known, until it appeared as the word of the day. YSER is a famous CrossRiver so that helped with SLOANE, I 'liked' the non-Danish/Norwegian clue for OLAF (have no clue about anything Frozen), MAGDA was a gimme for no known reason, and I like the farmyard love story, HE-GOAT BLATS BEGOT. I think the kid is named COLBY. or OGDEN.

Rex is spot on, but I still had a merry old time with this one.

Mohair Sam 8:58 AM  

Agree with @Rex on this one, only not quite as emphatically. Toughen up just a couple of clues and this could have run on a Friday or Saturday - not the constructor's fault it ran on the wrong day. Liked the theme, not so much all the dated fill.

Could have naticked on M in GAM, but guessed right. And would never have finished NE without the theme.

SLOANE? AKINS? Freaking MAGDA Gabor? OLDLINE indeed, and obscure (not so much Claude). HEGOAT, ASWIRL, SLIPSLOP? OK, if you say so.

Why does YAY look odd to me?

retired_chemist 9:07 AM  

I have been doing puzzles from a Maleska era collection, so I was not all that unhappy with the ( in this time) unusual fill. SLIPSLOP and SOBE are ugly in any era, however. Medium tough for a Tuesday. In any case. Liked the theme - it helped in the solve.

Thanks, Mr. Wildenberg.

joho 9:09 AM  

C'mon, how can you not see that "Big balls" is riot!? What a ballsy clue!

@Aliaz Z, you just beat me to it: BLATS crossing HEGOAT is also funny.

@chefwen, I, too, had Smoke before STEAM. Both work visually.

The theme is really cool and surely difficult to pull off. It started me thinking of single works that contain GOLD like LODGE, and then, I really began to appreciate that Mr. Wildenberg was able to create these GOLDNUGGETS by using 4 words! Bravo!

Loved PLOW above EDGE, too.

@Rex, I found your write up to be fair and HONEST but I can say I definitely enjoyed this one more than you (and @Steve J -- yep, I always try to see the positive!)

Tom 9:12 AM  

Got caught in the SE, I had the theme, but then expected the last one to not be like any of the other "nuggets" in this puzzle.
I know it's the wrong war and doesn't fit, but got a chuckle at thinking "Battle of the Bulge" after the Big balls clue. lol

joho 9:13 AM  

Jeez, try "a" riot and single "words" -- more coffee, please!

Arlene 9:14 AM  

I agree with all the whiny comments above.

I did know ARLEDGE and got the GOLD theme right away. And, to be fair, I did like some of the clues - like SIMMERS, DREAM - YAY!

Ludyjynn 9:14 AM  

HONESTly, aside from a decent theme, this puzz. made me ROAR AT it and go "AAR", like an angry pirate, not "yay"!

Can't remember the last time I DNF a Tues., but the N in SUNRA did me in. Definitely hit ASORE spot. Most of the NE corner kind of sucked, IMHO.

As the only person in the country who has never seen a "Star Wars" film, I was intrigued to learn that Lawrence KASDAN was involved. Love his later directorial work.

@AliasZ, thanks for the George Sanders tidbit. Most interesting...maybe Gabors and their husbands would make a good theme. Has it been done?!

Thanks, Rex, for your acute commentary.

Awaitingretread 9:32 AM  

Yikes. Hate it when I get roughed up by a Tuesday puzzle. I'm sure Lois Lerner is responsible.

IHateDecaf 9:45 AM  

I still don't understand the cluing for 41A:

Rascal = SOANDSO ?

Could someone explain this one for me? Thanks in advance!

pmdm 9:46 AM  

The fill was certainly more difficult than usual for a Tuesday. I suspect that the reason it was published in a Tuesday slot was because of the theme answers. 28 letters in the grid consist of the letters GOLD and the word NUGGETS was easy to get. The theme itself was easy to figures out, so in little time you know about 35 of the letters in the grid, and once you get one letter in the circle you know all the other circled letters. I guess that makes it too easy for Wednesday. It would have been much better if the fill could have been made easier and published on a Monday.

Mr. Shortz is on record as also not liking the fill, but he put up with it because he liked the theme. Mr. Wildenberg is on record as not being experts on such proper names as rap singers and American Idol contestants, so that might account for the feel of the puzzle (which is fine by me). Interestingly, he thinks the NE corner was changed be the editors. Anyway, he states that Mr. Shortz accepted a second puzzle of his, so let's see if that puzzle gets a better recepetion than his first published puzzle.

quilter1 10:13 AM  

Not a fan. Did not like SLIPSLOP, HEGOAT, SOANDSO, UNSTOW (not really a word imho). Yet it was dead easy for a longtime solver because @Rex is right. It comes across very dated. I'm no big fan of clues for rappers, technology or sitcoms I've never heard of, but I learn things and everything in this puzzle I learned a long time ago. Kind of annoyed.

Hartley70 10:24 AM  

@IHateDecaf I thought that cluing was off too. I think of a so and so as someone who thinks too well of them self. This took me a crazy amount of time for a Tuesday which pleases me to no end. My initial guess was almost always wrong and there was a moment when I thought I wouldn't finish. Egad on a Tuesday, the shame! The musical accompaniment was lovely @AliasZ.

Carola 10:34 AM  

I enjoyed this tougher-than-usual Tuesday, so was surprised to read the many BLATS of dismay here. Perhaps the constructor anticipated that it would hit A SORE spot, imagining a solver muttering, "SOANDSO" as he or she SIMMERS ("UNSTOW#@$%?!") and upon reaching the bottom row has STEAM coming out of his/her ears.

The grid looked nice in the paper, with its solid GOLD NUGGETS. I liked the central cross with MUD - what you have to wash away when you're panning for GOLD.

mac 10:42 AM  

This puzzle felt very strange to me - not only because there were so many names and expressions I did not know (Akins, Kasdan, unstow, Agon, gam in this context, Sloane, slip slop). In the end I only had to guess at the K at Akins/Kasdan, and for once I guessed right.

I also had smoke coming out of the ears (hi @chefwen).

Did the puzzle at the busiest Starbucks I've ever been to, in Washington DC, on Maryland Ave.
I seem to be the only person in town without an ID tag. And by the way, why are there border patrol in DC?

Back to NY this afternoon!

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

I'm Rexhole, King of Crosswords! Except when they're too hard. Which, by definition, they are if I don't know a bunch of clues or if they don't fit into my narrow ideas about what a crossword should be! Waa Waa Waa.
GREAT puzzle. Challenging, clever, and thoroughly enjoyable. Rex, as usual, is an ass.

Fred Smith 10:50 AM  


Soandso is "So and So"

A mild pejorative as in "that old so-and-so..."

Milder than, say' "that old SOB..."

Jeff 11:02 AM  

Was a DNF, but one of those rare "Did-Not-Care-Enough-To-Finish"es.

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

So and so threw me ..
hegoat and aswirl and slipslop and lowed and blats and ameba were annoying and not fun or clever.

Fred Smith 11:08 AM  

Mac --

OT, re: Starbucks:

I spent a long w/e in Nantucket. Learned that both the Starbuck and Folger families were from Nantucket. They, together with the majority of the population, migrated to SF when the whale oil trade crashed in 1848 and for the gold rush. Hundreds of whaling ships were left stranded, piling up in SF Bay.

Also, the founder of Macy's was from Nantucket. What I found absolutely amazing is the number of celebrities who vacation on the island, most owning houses there.

SenorLynn 11:11 AM  



@chefbea please send some cool weather. Real tired of 90's in Dallas.

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

Tip top work from a critic who never pussyfoots around!

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

Slipslop was a disgrace

wreck 11:35 AM  

@SenorLynn -- it's 72 now with a high of 85 today! It's hard to complain about this past Summer here - one of the mildest I ever remember.

Masked and Anonymo3Us 11:36 AM  

Big balls and gold nuggets, all around.
YAY, Wildenberg dude.

And they edited the NE corner to get that? Oh, man. Really really wanna see the original NE. I'm with @Q, all the way: projectile desperation like this is what I keep comin back every day, hopin to find. Marvelous. Lovely. Over the top funky. This puz has attitude that just don't quit. Giant circles! Yao noh, Eda!

Best of an allstar cast: DIY. SLIPSLOP. HEGOAT. GOOSES. AAR (= aah/har combo). BLATS. BLATS, mind you! Aaaar.

This puz has true grit. Got a mighty entertainin @63 review, to boot. Fun TuesPuz experience. thanx.

"Luncheon Special, Today: Hegoat Blats"

dk 11:45 AM  

OO (2 mOOns) Cute grid.

Two (err intended) many made up words.

And although GAM is correct ……… perhaps pod.

dk (HEGOAT to the stars)

The response herein will restore Tuesday to the most loathed puzzle day.

John Child 12:07 PM  

Schweddy balls? I was perfectly happy to spend twice a normal Tuesday puzzle time on this interesting offering. Three cheers..

M and Also 12:09 PM  

SOBE at One Across! {What Tonto calls the Masked Man, when P-O-ed: Hegoat ___ }.

Six LODG nuggets, two of which came out the same. Surely there are more possible purrmutations than five? Perhaps the duplication came out of the renovated NE? Only Gerry and the Shortzmeister know the rest of the story...

AGON seems like a cool name for a ballet. Kinda like AGONY, informally.

Man. So much good stuff in here. So and so and so much...

ASORE! Aaaaaar... that does it. M&A is all aswirl, now. Gonna do it. Gotta do it.

"Blats Amore!"

chefbea 12:10 PM  

@SenoyLynn I'll try!!

M and So and So 12:33 PM  

ASORE! Now I get it!
AS ORE. day-um. Brilliance within brilliance. Sorta like what ROCS is ahintin at. Wowza.
This forces old M&A to un-stow the ultimate honor upon this puz. Somethin he rarely gives out to strangers. Or 3-U debuts.

All this excitement in one day has worn m&e out entirely. We now return control of yer television to U.

"Slip Sloppin Away..."

Martel Moopsbane 12:35 PM  

Moby Dick, Chapter 53

But what is a Gam?

GAM. NOUN- A social meeting of two (or more) Whaleships, generally on a cruising-ground; when, after exchanging hails, they exchange visits by boats' crews, the two captains remaining, for the time, on board of one ship, and the two chief mates on the other.

Andrew Heinegg 12:36 PM  

I sometimes peek at the rating by Rex of a puzzle before I solve. I was a bit surprised at how easy this was after doing so. But, ultimately, whether you solve easily, with difficulty or not at all, it is the experience of the solving process that matters most. I must agree with the majority here. This was a anachronistic and uninteresting solve.

Numinous 12:50 PM  

Did this at 4:00 AM whilst taking a break from my nightly nap. Wasn't too sure what to think of it. It didn't really seem "old" to me but neither did it seem fresh. Some of the clues seemed rather nice to me. I liked 12D Mystery prizes, 1A Drink with a lizard logo, and 5A Big balls. As already noted, the Disney clue for OLAF was kinda cool for a change. The OLD LINE, 32A Trust me usually has me prepared to do the opposite.

Then there wee ALL(S) of the Als, ALDO and ALDAS.

If one RAN LOW, will he have LOWED and if he has cattle calls, can he be that LOW on stock? Then there is the P LOW not that far from PLO.

BEGaT threw me off for COLBY before crosses saved me.

Got to wondering if an AR LEDGE was a balcony for pirates given yesterday was Talk Like a Pirate Day. It would be an appropriate place for their LOGE. Speaking of pirates, AAR, HE GO AT A SORE EWE caught my notice. Not sure what that might mean but my inner 14 year old sniggered.

Dropped down to 53° last night so I guess the SIMMERS over.

Sadly a DNF for me as I had to google for SLOANE which made me ROAR AT myself.

Numinous 1:01 PM  

And I completely forgot about to mention the AC/DC song:

I'm upper, upper class high society
God's gift to ballroom notoriety
And I always fill my ballroom
The event is never small
the social papers say I've got the biggest balls of all

I've got big balls
I've got big balls
And they're such big balls
fancy big balls
And he's got big balls,
And she's got big balls,
But we've got the biggest balls of them all!

And my balls are always bouncing
My ballroom always full
And everybody cums and cums again
If your name is on the guest list
No one can take you higher
Everybody says I've got great balls of fire!


Some balls are held for charity
And some for fancy dress
But when they're held for pleasure,
They're the balls that I like best.
And my balls are always bouncing,
To the left and to the right.
It's my belief that my big balls should be held every night.


And I'm just itching to tell you about them
Oh, we have such wonderful fun
Seafood cocktail

Anonymous 1:28 PM  

I have a problem with "Advanced law degs." Those are LLMs not LLDs. Really messed up my puzzle for a while.

Leapfinger 2:00 PM  

Kind of late, been stuck back in the iCloud.

HONEST, ASORE was the ENIGMA of those GOLDNUGGETS: I always thought they were POLLymorphous like AMEBAs, and here they turn up neat little circle/squares!! Maybe not real NUGGETS, could be ersatz NUGGETS, or maybe sliced-up ingots... Grid art has its problems. SO BE it.

Also thought SLIPSLOP was kinda like stepping in cat-barf in the dark.

Robert ALDA, Alan ALDA, ALDO ALDA? Am thinking that would be a step up from ALDO's Tyrone.

For sure, ARLEDGE did a great job at ABC, but maybe it's a bit premature to beatify him as ST. REWN.

Thanks to @Whoever clarified the GAM/pod-cast. And it was great fun to find not only Rita GAM, Janet RENO and Maria GALAS, but also MAGDA GAMbor. Mamma GAMbor did indeed raise three Jolie daughters. Mamma Jolie and MAGDA used to have a toney little shop on Madison Ave. If you stopped to look in their window, you would invariably see their two heads slowly rise up in the dim recesses of the store, to assess whom they had attracted. They just don't make ladies like that any more.

Wouldn't say the opposite of STOW is UNSTOW, more something like 'retrieve'. Just as the opposite of BURY isn't UNBURY or even UNEARTH, but rather DISINTER.

However, not one thing wrong with Billy=HEGOAT; ask any Nanny SHEGOAT. BTW, @WhirredWhacks et al blue me away with y'alls' GALAS. Me too!

A DELTS may cheer for B-LATS, but I DREAM of OGDEN COLBY'S TEAM coming up with another bit of cheesy Nashery. @Alias came through, but it was over too quick, you know? Thanks for the music; I had anticipated "I want A SWIRL just like the SWIRL that harried dear old Dad".

@SteveJ, this is one way to enjoy.

Off now, for a little time with Steven SPENDER.

Anonymous 2:24 PM  

I did this puzzle because I was intrigued by the circles- and I am so glad I did. This is what a Tuesday should be- after all, this is the NY Times- not the Daily News! I just don't understand Rex- one minute he's saying he finished Friday or Saturday in 3 seconds and the next he's complaining that Tuesday is too hard.... If I didn't like and appreciate so many of the posters on this blog I'd find another one...

LaneB 2:24 PM  

Plenty of room for error here . I had proms for GAGAS crossing with pod for GAM(?). Also lasso for RIATA. Made for a maddening DNF. YSER, ALDO, AAR and in the block with SUNRA finished me off. Managed to fill the rest of this, but it was more like a Friday. I had to check my calendar. The fill was awkward, indeed. Once again: how does one like this get accepted??

john towle 2:27 PM  

Moby Dick is not a venereal disease.



AliasZ 2:38 PM  

Wow, @Leapy, it would be a formidable task indeed fully to analyze your post, juicy bit by juicy bit. There is so much good stuff in it, my mind was ASWIRL half way through.

Maria GALAS & Sue SPENDERs. What a sight!

Freddy Murcks 2:50 PM  

I found this puzzle to be relatively easy, and I am not a great crossworder.

Anonymous 2:53 PM  

DNFed the NE corner after getting kneecapped by YSER/SLOANE/SUNRA/ROARAT crossings. Agreed: Not a typical Tuesday, tho I liked the GOLD nuggets. Or it that LDGO nuggets? Or DGOL nuggets?

thomascity 3:24 PM  

Enjoyed it just fine -- and liked the hidden nuggets -- but THAT NORTH EAST corner!!!! Totally unassailable for me, which is wildly frustrating. Yoga, Yay and Honest were it for me. Didn't know Yser, Aldo, Sloane, Edgars or Roar At. Makes the whole effort feel pointless. Argh.

Leapfinger 3:29 PM  


I left out a bunch of the best. I went on to check out the Denver NUGGETS lineup and the Kosta each player in the current season. Discovered Affialo's getting $7.5 mill, probably would get more if he spelled Arron properly. The guards, averaging 5'10" and 190#, must feel like shrimps next to the near-7' centers pushing 300#. Ty Lawson, one of my Tarheel Boys, gets top dollar at $12 million, averaging out to about $60,000 a pound, and could cover a dozen of the least-paid players.

Ty, who was christened 'Tywon Ronell' [not Tyrone Wonell nor Tyler, like Hansbrough] had some stellar games, including starting one game making 10 of 11 from 3-point range, and stealing 8 times from Michigan State for the NCAA championship.

While the NBA was in lockout 2011, Ty signed with BC Zalgiris in Europe, which gave me an opportunity to learn more about Lithuanian roundball than I ever dreamed possible, including the early political overtones and financing thereof.

Who says xwps aren't educational?

Anonymous 3:31 PM  

Very nice puzzle for one of the seniors who still reads a newspaper. I cannot fathom why the puzzle master caters to the youthful pop culture solvers, when they long ago abandoned reading one. Nice to have a comforting puzzle once in awhile -- would like one once a week!

Leapfinger 3:40 PM  

That would be *Two* dozen of the PG out of Virginia Tech, but he;s still Green.


sanfranman59 3:40 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 9:23, 7:50, 1.20, 90%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Tue 6:50, 5:21, 1.28, 97%, Challenging (8th highest ratio of 249 Tuesdays)

From the solve times, this seems to be more of a Wednesday puzzle than a Tuesday (and a Medium or Medium-Challenging one at that). I'll join in the chorus ... SLIPSLOP?!? Seriously?

Anonymous 3:46 PM  

I groaned at quite a few of these answers - SLIPSLOP, ASWIRL, LOWED, HEGOAT ... but for me the worst was UNSTOW. I literally laughed out loud. Just terrible.

And ditto to Anon @1:28PM - an "LLD" does not exist in the U.S. - it's an LLM. Ugh.

mathguy 3:54 PM  

There are eight ways to arrange G, O, L, D in a 2x2 matrix so that they spell GOLD if you start at the G and proceed either clockwise or counterclockwise. The constructor used five of the eight, using the same arrangement in both the NE and the SE.

RooMonster 4:25 PM  

Hey All!
Puz was easy for me... don't know why OFL felt it challenging. There were alot of names, but somehow they were all readily gettable. Solved online today with the clock running, only holdup was NE with the A in AAR, arr! Finished in decent Tues time...

Hand up for smoke (although, I started to put STEAM, almost, but said nah {Is that a HumbleBrag?}) I managed to suss out that pesky NE corner all right, had YAY and ROARAT, figured it must be YSER, then finally finished on the A.

Will is starting to aggrevate me with sending my submissions back as "Didn't excite me enough". Just got another one with what I thought was a good puz with 9 themers and minimal dreck! A 15 letter down themer crossing the 6 Across themers! AAR! Trying to get Ralph to put it on runtpuz, does anyone know where he ran off to?


Northwest Nana 4:40 PM  

As a fairly recent NY Times "crossword-er" I am encouraged that so many CW "veterans", including Rex, had the same questions/issues I did for a Tues. puzzle!

crabsofsteel 4:44 PM  

"In the sorry tradition of crossword-ese like “aswirl”, I declare this puzzle to be acrap with subpar fill."

Agree... too many obscure clues. You had me at acrap. LOL!

Norm 6:54 PM  

Gosh, gee whillikers, Rexie, I found this one pretty darn easy. Granted, it skewed a but old, but what if we call it "traditional" for a debut puzzle? The only clue I found "obscure" was OLAF (from a relatively recent movie that I've never seen). Okay, SUNRA crossing SLOANE and UNSTOW was pretty ugly, but AMONRA is not uncommon and the other crosses were pretty straightforward. If anything, I found this one kind of drab. Anyway, props from this corner, Gerry.

Norm 7:03 PM  

Oh, and hello, anonymice: The clue did not say "Advanced law degrees [in the US]" -- it said "Advanced law degrees": remember reading the "call of the question" for the SAT [or bar exam]? Sheesh.

Elephant's Child 7:18 PM  

@Roomie, would really like to our puzzle. @r.alph may have run off with @CascoKid, but Monday he posted on the runtz blogspot, Will may just have Shortzed out his Excite-oMeter!

@Alias, it took Way too long to suss out your Sue Spender; I garter pay more attention. Thanks for mentioning the MAGDA- MAGDAlene connection. There must be a reason I never thought of that.

btw, with the Bach Prelude, Herzberg gives a treasure trove of links to other works, if you click on 'More'.

OISK 8:34 PM  

UGH! I haven't had a DNF on a Friday in a month, but SLOANE and SUNRA? I guessed wrong. This was a slow, painful slog, certainly not a Tuesday level. Didn't know, but correctly wrote Sobe, Colby, Agon, (and I GO to the ballet!) Sloane, Akins, Kasdan… At least glad to see it is one of the most challenging Tuesdays among the top solvers...

Charles Flaster 10:58 PM  

Very EZ. Akins,Magda,Kasdan and Sloane are right in my wheelhouse.Sloane was a respected character actor of his time.
Think he might have appeared in MAYBERRY for one episode???
Should have been a Wednesday.
Thanks GW.

Charles Flaster 11:05 PM  

U R spot On.
Grew up with Ogden Nash.Required reading in my neighborjood

sanfranman59 1:24 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 5:57, 6:03, 0.98, 42%, Medium
Tue 9:29, 7:50, 1.21, 90%, Challenging

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:56, 3:57, 1.00, 43%, Medium
Tue 6:25, 5:21, 1.20, 92%, Challenging

quilter1 10:16 AM  

Decided to do the downs first and got ATTACKS, read the across clue and immediately got the theme. The rest was easy. Mme de STAEL was old school crosswordese. Can't hear what a dump without thinking of BETTE. Just a pleasure to solve.

the redanman 2:14 PM  

This puzzle is a mess. Too easy theme and revealer, absolute bottom of the barrel fill, obscure in a bad unfun way. Above all else a puzzle should be fun; miserable fail in that regard

Frozen Shoes 12:49 PM  

I've never heard or seen ALDO shoes or handbags, guess I need to go ...

spacecraft 11:17 AM  

DBTF. That's right--for the first time--this puzzle was so bad I simply Didn't Bother To Finish.

The entire NE was "are you kidding me?" Even the normal word, HONEST, had an oblique clue: "Trust me!" HEGOAT? UNSTOW?? Who says that crap? It certainly was ASORE spot.

I had already winced at yet another damn bunch of NLERS--and who remembers MAGDA? A GAM of whales, not a pod?? By the time I started on the bottom half I was right on the EDGE...then here comes Yet Another Random Direction (hereafter acronymmed YARD) and that was the straw. I said, "forget it, I simply have better things to do with my time."

Oh, the grade? F.

Still on words, deal me out.

rondo 1:22 PM  

Didn't mind it so much. Had to go around and around from the edges inward before finishing with SOANDSO and KASDAN. OFL calls it ancient - hell, I remember when Roone ARLEDGE was still doing just sports. Glad there's a new clue for OLAF, the Norwegian saint and the college here in MN have been over-used. One write-over GAM for pod.

717 - hardly GOLDen

DMG 1:31 PM  

I join those who floundered in the NE. Too many proper names that weren't in my ken. Maybe if I had seen the permuted "GOLD", but, of course, I didn't lok closely. Just ended thinking those circles sure don't look any nuggets I've ever seen! Got MAGDA, but thought she was the Mother. Maybe that was Jolie? As for UNSTOW!!!!

3140 not the worst. @Spacecraft: Have you tried hitting that little circlely(!!!) arrow to refresh your Captcha? Often that turns indecipherable letter combination into readable numbers.

Dirigonzo 2:52 PM  

I thought the cluing skewed a little late-week but I liked it. Theme was helpful once I grokked the gold/dlog routine, which I did early-on, so with a couple of the letters in place the others could be inferred. Favorite clue was "Mystery prizes" for EDGARS, but it was unexpected in a Tuesday offering. Only write-over came when I discovered that my Itsy-bitsy spider wouldn't fit into the allotted space - I can't be the only one started down that nursery-rhyme path, can I?

109 - Good number for a PT boat, lousy for a game.

rain forest 5:08 PM  

Yeah, UNSTOW and SLIPSLOP were hard to take, but I liked the "differentness" of the puzzle. YAY, and YSER, went right in, and with the theme circles helping out, I actually went reasonably smoothly through the grid.

You know me; I'm not looking for crossword nirvana. I just want to enjoy the minutes (in this case, about 20) spent on the solve, and this puzzle filled the bill for me.

Plus, for the second day in a row-
5805. Yay!

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