Western Afghan city / TUE 12-30-14 / Zairean president Mobutu Seko / Film producer Carlo / Toon Chihuahua / Green who was on four seasons of voice / Our planet to Germans / Victims of farmer's wife / Jersey shore housemate / Socialist disparagingly

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Constructor: Jeffrey Wechsler

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (for a T)

THEME: LOOP DE LOOP DE LOOP (41A: Maneuver for slot car racers or stunt pilots, as suggested by this puzzle's circled letters) — circled letters spell "LOOP," and "loop" (i.e. the letters rotate positions) two full times as you follow the circled square pattern around the grid...

Word of the Day: RED TOP (32D: Common grass variety named for its color) —
Agrostis gigantea, known by its common names Black Bent and Redtop, is a perennial grass of the Agrostis genus.
It is native to Europe, but in the cooler areas of North America was widely used as a pasture grass until the 1940s. Although it has largely been replaced by soybeans and more palatable grasses, it still gets some use in poor soils. It was one of the grasses planted in areas disturbed by the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. It generally does well in response to fires, due to survival of rhizomes and seeds. 

It can be found in open woodland, rough grassland, hedgerows, roadsides and waste ground, and as a weed on arable land. (wikipedia) 
noun: redtop
  1. a tabloid. (google)
• • •

There is one great thing about this puzzle, which is that if you start with any circled area and go in any direction every subsequent iteration involves a one-click rotation of the letters, resulting in two full rotations (LOOP DE LOOP DE LOOP) once you've completely circumnavigated the grid. That, I like. I like literally nothing else. Nope, wait: CANOODLE. CANOODLE, I like. But OMG the fill. Also, the phrase LOOP DE LOOP DE LOOP is not a thing. LOOP DE LOOP, yes. Extra DE LOOP, wtf? You invented a phrase so that you could do your little loop acrobatics (you also expanded the grid to 16 wide, which is fine, actually). I winced when I filled in the revealer, but it's just this side of tolerable. What's intolerable, however, is the fill. Like, everywhere, it is very poor.

SHOT PAR is an ironic entry, in that this puzzle didn't. But also apt, in that it is a poor entry, and therefore nicely represents the overall quality of the grid. The short stuff is a train wreck. I'm not kidding you when I say that I was dubious about this thing before I'd even left the tiny NW corner. The APOLO went up and I kind of looked at the grid sideways. Then ERDE went in and I literally stopped and doubled over. And sighed. REDTOP? SOLI? ALLA? ALOES plural. Just on and on and on w/ the non-Tuesday, keep-it-to-a-minimum fill. SESE CEELO APOLO OCELO — all crutch names. The punchy line of it all was HERAT. Looks like this is my third time ever seeing this [Western Afghan city] (?), and unshockingly, both other times were On A Saturday. I'm floored that the constructor couldn't get HERAT out of there. Stunned. Any constructor worth his/her salt isn't going to let that **** stand. You could do a million things w/ that section and you go with HERAT? What's that holding up, exactly? ACELA (again, ugh)? The now-embarrassingly-dated SNOOKI? RECOPY? I guess you can write it all off to "theme density," but that's a cop-out. This is just poorly filled. If you can't execute the stunt to perfection, don't perform the stunt.

    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


    Zeke 12:08 AM  

    Rex - Here you go again, over thinking things. It's just a puzzle, what difference does it make that any two adjacent LOOP blocks are exactly "one click" different from the others? Why do you always have to be so critical?

    Wait, by looking critically you saw what was unusually good about the puzzle! So, examining puzzles critically isn't necessarity picking on puzzle, it's only picking on them when what you find is second rate? Who would have ever guessed!?

    Anonymous 12:11 AM  

    I liked the puzzle, and the rotating "loop"s was clever. My least favorite was "lab rooms". Sounds like "kitchen rooms"

    Steve J 12:26 AM  

    Meh. I don't get that excited about visual tricks in puzzles, although the symmetrical LOOP loop is done well for this sort of thing. And CANOODLE was nice. But outside that, nothing grabbed me.

    Cluing and fill both felt on the tough side for a Tuesday, but I finished this just a bit above my typical time. But I suspect there are going to be a few recurring rough spots for many on this one.

    jae 12:50 AM  

    If I'm remembering correctly this is the third tough Tues. in a row.  Seems harsh for early week only solvers.  Stuff I did not know:  HERAT, PARC, and RED TOP.  Stuff I know only from late week crosswords: SESE and ERDE.  Stuff I just know but that seems out of place on a Tues.: SNOOKI, HMONG, COPT, CEELO,  HARPO, APOLO, PONTI. 

    Plus IRONIST is not pretty...Satirist maybe? 

    I liked it more than Rex did (tho he has some good points about the fill) but would have liked it more on a Wed. 

    mathguy 1:11 AM  

    I think it would have been cooler if each of the loop clusters had been different. For example, there are two loop clusters where the L is in the upper left (beginning in 21A and beginning in 60A) but LOOP is spelled out going clockwise in both. So both loop clusters are exactly the same. If one had spelled it out clockwise and the other counterclockwise, they would have been different.

    Garth 1:19 AM  

    It's really too bad that someone with as much knowledge and insight as @Rex insists on using such overly harsh rhetoric on a regular basis to make his points. Using individual instructors and Will Shortz as foils for his nastiness might make for good blogging in some minds, but I just don't get it. Of course he has a right to do it, it's his blog, yada, yada, yada. But for me, it would be so much more enjoyable if he were able to express his criticism in a constructive way.

    Unknown 1:19 AM  

    30:25. 2 errors. Medium Challenging/Unsolvable. RiN/OCiLO. Big Natick there. Rin Tin Tin was not a chihuahua. No. No he wasn't. REN was a chihuahua? OCELO is a sponge brand? Huh. "Learn something new every day." Not guaranteed to be useful or interesting, though.

    Well, what can I say? When you are racing to beat 30 minutes, you gotta take wild risks. To win big you gotta be willing to lose big.

    Other toughies: ILO, SCRIP, ALLA, HERAT, ERDE, HARPO, HMONG, all gettable from crosses and a vague memory or two.

    So. Double DNF in early week puzzles. Sigh.

    It is a happy day for Michigan football.

    Meanwhile, I'm working on AVCXword's 6 puzzle meta. First puzzle is a diagramless crossword. Never done one, so I have a lot to figure out. Are there any rules governing design of diagramless? Byron Waldron's graph is 19x19, but does that mean the puzzle is that size? Is the puzzle even square? What about cheater squares? Are they allowed? I've asked Ben Tausig via Twitter (a public medium) and haven't heard anything back. Perhaps **totally unspecified** is the the correct answer. Any dimensions, any ratio, any number of cheater squares, etc. OK, then. I'll need a really big piece of graph paper.

    chefwen 1:24 AM  

    Thought this one was easier than Mondays, but I had so much fun with Jon's comments that I laughed throughout the solve. At one point he asked me what the hell was a SNOOKI and CANOODLE, is that something like spaghettiO's? sp? The lad doesn't get out much.

    HERAT filled itself in, thank you, that was an unknown. Didn't like LAB ROOMS either

    @Numinous - So happy to "see" you back. Ricey and I were quite concerned.

    Anoa Bob 2:22 AM  

    Alla alp apolo alpo. Hoi ipos herat? Acela sese soli. Ilo plo, ocelo ceelo. Oof!

    John Child 3:42 AM  
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    John Child 3:43 AM  
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    John Child 3:45 AM  

    > "Learn something new every day." Not guaranteed to be useful or interesting, though.

    ROFLOL. Thanks @Casco Kid! I too might have been stuck there since I've never heard of OCELO. But I did a puzzle a week or so ago where REN stumped me and I said grumpily, "If it had said Nickelodeon or chihuahua I could have gotten it." So today I did.

    I liked this better than OFL because I never saw some of the weaker bits of fill. With only 47 constrained squares It might have come out better, but the conceit of the loops was a big plus to enjoying it, IMO.

    What's the fuss over HERAT? The first battle of Operation Enduring Freedom; it's appeared in the Times an average of 160 times per year since then. That's fair, and the crosses are Tuesday level even if you think the word isn't.

    Mr Wechsler's first NYT was published 45 years ago! That's quite cool. Thank you sir.

    Thomas808 3:53 AM  

    I guess this just was in my wheelhouse because I thought it was on the easy side. @Casco I sympathize with your RiN OCiLO Natick and OCELO was also unknown to me, but I think my kids were at the right age that I knew who REN was enough to have made sure they never watched him! Others may not agree but that was some pretty twisted stuff to show on Nickelodeon.

    I also resisted LABROOM. A lab is by definition a room. Saying LABROOM is like saying kitchen room or den room. Oh well, I still liked the puzzle and thought it pretty cool that the LOOP circles advanced one letter at a time in order as they went around the circle. This could have had a Ferris wheel theme and still worked. I agree with Rex that there's no such thing as a LOOPDELOOPDELOOP, but let's allow for some artistic license.

    GILL I. 4:50 AM  

    @Garth....@Rex reminds me of Le Figaro's food critic Francois Simon. He's fond of saying that the great chefs don't like him. "Friendship interferes with reviewing so I don't want to be close to them." Food for thought?
    I had fun with this, SNOOKI not withstanding. OCELA ACELA - a Bobby Darin ditty? Do the HMONG CANOODLE in TOPEKA?
    Was it Archie Bunker who coined the word PINKO commie?
    I like that we now can fill in 16 letters instead of the usual 15. Time for change...ROO ROO and OOF OOF.

    Susierah 5:38 AM  

    Agree that this seemed challenging for a Tuesday. The southwest corner took a lot of effort. Did not like the clue for recopy. Herat and Hmong were new for me. Also learned a new word Copt. And I think of aloe as a succulent or a cactus, but now I learn it is in the lily family. I finally got it all in 16 minutes, but it was a learning experience.

    George Barany 5:57 AM  

    As a chemist, I was pleased to see a shout-out to the central science in the clue for 38-across, i.e.: "Chem., e.g. : SCI," but was then disappointed in 43-down, i.e., "Parts of chemistry buildings : LABROOMS." Sorry, the latter does not pass muster, for reasons already brought up by earlier commentators. And therein lies the rub, none of us can be specialists in everything, so maybe we can cut the constructor/editor some slack if they felt this was necessary in service of their theme??

    I did get a big kick out of the clues for 30-down, i.e., "Farm enclosure ... or a farmers' group : COOP," and 42-down, i.e., "Schedule for take-off? : DIETPLAN." While IRONIST is not the first word that comes to mind for Jonathan Swift, it at least allows us to keep some sort of chemistry mini-theme (reparse as FEIST).

    Anonymous 6:30 AM  

    Hahahahs. So I accused Rex of being a buzz kill for his critique of Sunday's puzzle which I finished on Saturday night with no googles. I almost never finish puzzles without googling..

    Yesterday morning I felt remorse because I turned in a harsh review of an article submitted to a peer reviewed journall. The submission was so bad that I felt like a buzzkill myself. Plus Puzzle Girl wrote her usual refreshing review which made me feel even more like a buzz kill.

    Yesterday afternoon the editorial staff of the journal invited me to be on their editorial board. Last night I finished yet another puzzle with no googles on the night of release. And this morning Rex is back and buzz killed the second puzzle I was able to finish on the same night as its release without Google.

    I feel like I did a loop de loop.

    Danp 6:36 AM  

    Thank you @John Child. I cringed at "This is my third time ever seeing [Herat} and unshockingly, both other times were On A Saturday." Talk about tunnel vision. SESE, on the other hand, was new to me.

    Leon 7:02 AM  

    Here we go loop de loop
    Here we go loop de li
    Here we go loop de loop
    On a Saturday night

    Anonymous 7:38 AM  

    Every day I try to predict what Rex doesn't like about the puzzle.
    Today it was "Lab Rooms"
    and "Pool Pump"

    wrong again

    Z 7:56 AM  

    A LAB ROOM is often in a building with classrooms but rarely in a building with bedrooms. That it is often shortened to just LAB does not make it wrong. Nor is it the same as a Laboratory, which often signifies a building onto itself. Perfectly okay.

    LOOP DE LOOP DE LOOP is also okay, as long as one is making a looping motion with one's hand as saying it. That's two wrong for Rex.

    And, gentlemen, please do not share your ignorance of OCELO unless you are prepared to have an uncomfortable discussion about chores with your significant other.

    Just under 15' which makes this tough tough tough for a Tuesday. But, Tuesday, so can't complain. I liked it more than Rex, but mostly because I missed most of the bad fill. Was mildly amused by ACELA near OCELO along with APOLO and CEELO. One could just as easily view these as features rather than bugs.

    Off to the slopes. Please, no Fox News trash talking without me.

    Leapfinger 7:59 AM  

    I do like the FEISTy comments, and @AnoaBob's irrefutable point.

    Started the puzzle at TEN OF, and was finished on the hour. Did enjoy barreling through the rolls: I SWAN, that was a cool concept! @mathguy, reversing the direction of the LOOP might be aesthetically satisfying, but it wouldn't work in the air. Thought it nice to have the flying ACE in the grid; there were probably some who barnstormed near TOPEKA in the old days. Does it also tap into the theme to have the old BALKAN Wing?

    Count me HMONG those who were fine with the fill, in service of the theme constraints. Did notice a muckle of single-letter uncertainties: OLSeN/OLSON, SOLo/SOLI, AREOLa/AREOLE. PARk/PARC was the one that did me in: I overlooked the French signal, and KEELO looked perfectly possible for too long.

    Have to like a grid with Hugh LAURIE, Signor SCIcolone and RUMPLE of the Bailey. Pleased to see Swift in a clue, but agree with @jae about satirist. Thought about IRONIST (a weird word, no?), and decided it's a tough word to clue. I could only think of cryptically referring to an IRON _IST in a Velvet _love.

    Hope all you OL' SONs and Daughters have a great day, and don't let your POMP POMPOMS SAG.

    L. Finger, SIGNing OOF.

    dk 8:07 AM  

    🌕🌕 (2 mOOns)

    Z start your turns with your toes.

    Okay puzzle. The extra LOOP was not needed but worked for the construction.

    Greetings from NOLA off to hi volt for coffee as my beloved Velvet has closed.

    AliasZ 8:21 AM  
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    AliasZ 8:29 AM  

    I am an avid IRONIST myself. Last time I SHOT PAR with the help of my favorite 9 iron.

    There will be a National Curling League starting in 2016. The first team to join: the LA BROOMS. I can't wait to see the POMP of cheerleaders POOL-PUMP their POMPOMS, slipping-sliding on the ice and stumbling all over the stones.

    I heard APOLO joined a one-L lama-sery to learn how to CHANT: ohno... LOOM... GLOOM... OOF...

    Once I purchased a famous work of art that turned out to be a genuine RECOPY of a fake original.

    What's the dwarf leopard called? Sounds like ACELA, a CEELO, OCELO... I got it: ocelot!

    Who HMONG you hasn't seen a HERAT with a sherat and 26 babyrats on the subway tracks of NYC?

    If you walk on someone's body on stilts, s/he'll end up with a RUMPLEd stilt skin.

    Let's enjoy a little POMP and Circumstance conducted by Sir Georg SOLI.

    Gabe Tuerk 8:48 AM  

    AliasZ made me smile more than this puzzle did. I hated most of the same fill already detailed. Interesting bits : ocelo (if pronounced like ocelot) would close to rhyme with the Oslo cross. Schedule for takeoff should be plan diet - if diet plan, it should be Takeoff schedule. That is all

    Anonymous 8:55 AM  

    The personal vehemence and insults from rex really should stop. He needs an intervention, or some medication, or something. It's one thing to criticize and analyze a puzzle. It's another to personally insult the constructor. That is just plain mean, and it serves no purpose but to expose the writer as a bitter and angry man. "Any constructor worth his/her salt..." REALLY?! Who does this guy think he is? Did the constructor kick a puppy in the street, or steal a lollipop from a child?
    Anyone who contributes money to this nasty, sad individual should seriously reconsider.

    Dorothy Biggs 9:01 AM  

    In defense of Rex (who I'm sure needs no defense), I think those of you who regularly read his blog and continue to criticize him for being critical are, with all due respect, crazy.

    First, the NYT alleges and/or pretends to be the Gold Standard for xword puzzles everywhere. That claim is fair enough (they certainly pioneered the modern puzzle as we know it), but along with that claim comes the equally fair possibility of being held accountable to their own standard. Rex's blog is about the NYT puzzle, so that's what this blog is about: holding the NYT to their own standard.

    Second, if you don't like Rex's take on the NYT, then seriously, why do you even read it? And if you want to read just because, then why would you comment on it if it turns out Rex is just being his usual critically minded self? It seems to me you're being critical in the same way you think Rex is being critical. The drive by pot shots are, at least in my opinion, much worse than Rex's thought out (albeit sometimes harsh) way of critique.

    Third, this blog isn't an NYT circle jerk...Rex is a third party blogger who aims to offer insight into the world of xwords and uses the NYT as his platform. Sometimes the puzzles are good, sometimes not so good...in his opinion. He calls 'em like he sees 'em. If you don't see it that way, or if you're expecting a rousing "Hey, at least you tried!" entry, you won't find it here.

    The puzzle constructors are (usually) adults who can handle criticism. They're paid for doing the puzzles. WS is a big boy. I'm sure he doesn't take any of Rex's shots personally, nor should he. If he were wise, he'd take Rex's blog with a grain of salt but also as an opportunity to get better.

    So, enough of the sniping at Rex on his blog. If you don't like it, don't read it. If you read it and don't like it regularly, then stop reading it. But don't come here and do the very thing you accuse him of doing.

    Lewis 9:16 AM  

    Shout out to @leapy, fellow TARHEEL.

    I like the looks of the O square (LOOM over LOOP). I love the words RUMPLE and CANOODLE. Is an IRONIST like a TEACHEST? I like ACELA parallel with OCELO. And... and... since I've started looking at this, a record number of double letters for a M-SA puzzle -- 19! Beating the old record by 3.

    I recognized that this theme was hard to pull off and am not surprised the fill suffered some for it. Was the theme worth it? That's the big question. I found the puzzle to be a good mental workout, but not one of the rare stellar puzzles, nor particularly lousy.

    I thought there might be some discussion over PINKO. It's not a racial slur or sexist, but it is a slur to those of a particular philosophy. Is that okay?

    Ludyjynn 9:17 AM  

    I hate to admit that slutty SNOOKI saved me in the SW corner. I was confusing lamase w/ lamaZe, so initially had 'cries' before the non-Italian, non-New Jersey girl forced me to self-correct. She also allowed me to see AREOLE (as opposed to her areolas).
    Of course, for me in MD, CRABS went in right away, but they could also easily apply to good ole party girl, Snooks. (sorry, I can't help myself).

    I think Rex's nits are valid, but I like COOP and its clue, and DIETPLAN, as well. The entire NE corner is very nice, as well.

    Thanks, JW and WS. ADIOS til tomorrow.

    Leapfinger 9:19 AM  


    Your one-L APOLO lamasery had me Nashing my teeth, but I THIMK I remember your genuwine RECOPY of that fake original: it was the Miro, Miro on the wall, right?

    HERAT the TARHEEL state we don't have no subways, but I enjoyed your buildup to the 26 baby ratlets no end, reminded me of 'popcorn mice', a COOL phenomenon.

    Not to mention the RUMPLEd stilt skin; we all know that after a certain age, the old birthday suit needs to visit the IRONIST.

    chefbea 9:21 AM  

    Much easier than yesterday.

    @lewis and @leapy...I'm a Tarheel too. Love penne ala vodka!!

    What is Copt???? never heard that word

    Unknown 9:24 AM  

    Like @Anonymous at 7:38, I usually try to anticipate what Rex will not like. I expected him to point out POOLPUMP, and even worse, in my opinion, ALP in the same line as ALPO. That being said, most days I find myself agreeing with @Garth's sentiments.

    Steve M 9:28 AM  


    Anonymous 9:31 AM  

    @Leon - All on a Saturday night.

    'Operation Enduring Freedom', ROFLOL. As twisted a term as 'friendly fire'.

    @NCA Prez, I didn't think this was any kind of a circle jerk, but maybe that's just me being oblivious.

    I think in the Chinese calendar it's the Year of tHE RAT, but in Florida, it's still POMP Ano.

    Go fish.

    NYer 9:39 AM  

    Those who cannot stomach Rex's acid pen wiuld do well to read Jeff Chen's commentaries on xwordinfo.com.

    RooMonster 9:41 AM  

    Hey All !
    O heavy puz. Agree with challenging *for a TuesPuz*. Agree it was hard to get all the "Loops" in there. Tough to get any kind of legible fill with the constraints, so willing to let some iffy fill go. Still don't like IRONIST, though. IRONyIST?

    Have heard of OCELO sponges! Actually never knew ODIE was a Beagle! I know Snoopy is... Knew REN from REN & Stimpy, funny show for the inner 12 year old! SCRIP was another odd 'un. Have a slight nit with POOLPUMP, as it has the P-O-O-L letters in it.

    Was going to do something with LA BROOMS, but Alias beat me to it! Always thought PINKO was for Communists, not Socialists. Learn so mudh here!


    Dorothy Biggs 9:45 AM  

    @anon 9:31am:

    I think some expect it to be a CJ...kinda like xwordinfo is. I can hardly blame Chen for being a little too WS friendly since WS has agreed to share his comments on the puzzles there from time to time. I doubt very much WS would ever comment here...though I suppose I could be wrong on that.

    But yeah...these comment sections are not filled with sycophants as some have alluded to...but really the point isn't about that as much as it is with allowing Rex to be Rex and if you don't like it then you don't have to read it.

    And tangentially, if you read it and comment without criticizing Rex for being critical, that in no way means you either agree with him or necessarily condone his rhetoric.

    There are many of us who just post here because it's interesting to see everyone's process. Rex's blog is both fuel for the conversation and a convenient place to post our own rants/praises of the puzzle.

    Anonymous 9:52 AM  

    If you think Rex is caustic here, you should read his twitter timetable.

    Anonymous 9:54 AM  

    It would be nice if there was a crossword blog written by someone who wasn't a miserable scold. Can anyone point me in that direction?

    jberg 9:56 AM  

    If it hadn't been for the circles and the revealer, I'd have thought the theme was 'double vowels.' Of course you need them for the loops, pub look at that East side withe CEELO, POOL PUMP, LOOM -- pretty dense. And then there's the alliteratvie crossing of POOL PUMPS and POM POMS.

    Aside from that, my main problems were METreS, and not wanting to put in PONTI because I thought he was Mozart's librettist. Turns out that was Ponte.

    @Casco, I used to do those things when I had a lot of time on my hands. As I recall, they are supposed to obey the regular laws of symmetry, and not to have entire rows or columns with nothing in them. Cheater squares are common, though. And of course you can tell how long the first across is by the number of the second across. That should get you going!

    Anonymous 9:57 AM  

    Rex is friends with half the constructors...

    Charles Flaster 10:04 AM  

    Easy due to scads of crosswordEASE--ETNA,SESE, APOLO, ACELA and ROO.
    Liked cluing for DIET PLAN, TEN OF and
    CO-OP. Hope ÇO-OP will DO-OK.
    Also liked the rotational symmetry that made puzzle even easier.
    One writeover that slowed me down was Baltic for BALKAN but SNOOKI to the rescue.
    LABROOMS was an easy get due to the double O from the rotation. I always say "lab"
    but will try LABROOM on some of my peers.
    Thanks JW.

    Anonymous 10:08 AM  

    Jeff Chen at xwordinfo doesn't always like the puzzles, but at least he is kind in his critiques.

    Ted Vann 10:12 AM  

    @Anonymous 9:31: ALL is not part of the song. Listen or google the lyrics.

    joho 10:14 AM  

    @Anoa Bob, beautifully stated!

    @Alias Z, I was remembering that brooding novel, "He Rat, She Rat" about two perfectly matched despicable people.

    I so appreciated the construction of this puzzle and the whimsical LOOPy concept but was a little disappointed in the fill. I did find ACELA next to OCELO amusing (Hi, Z!).

    Anonymous 10:14 AM  

    Rex isn't being "critical." He is being nasty. And petty. And childish. There is a big difference, and ass-kissers like nca pres seem blind to that.

    Bob Kerfuffle 10:21 AM  

    Fun puzzle.

    Gotta clean my glasses department: For some reason I was reminded of a Google Maps satellite view of some suburban neighborhoods, dotted with all those POOLs.

    quilter1 10:21 AM  

    Got it all from the bottom up. No big deal and really, no big deal. No sparkle, no fun. Looking for tomorrow.

    Anonymous 10:27 AM  

    Ooh I like it from the bottom up! :-)

    quilter1 10:31 AM  

    Having said that I'd like to add that HMONG was a gimme. We sponsored a Hmong family of nine (soon to be ten) back in the '70's. They had nothing. The mom was excited to have a broom. I am proud to say that they developed farmland and now sell asian vegetable all over the US and Canada and every one of the kids graduated from college. Take that, Steve King.

    pfb 10:52 AM  

    I found this challenging for a Tuesday. Maybe it was just me, but it took far longer than usual. The SW corner gave me fits.

    mathguy 11:03 AM  

    NCA President: I agree that a lot of the Rex critics are guilty of the same harsh criticism that they accuse him of. But I like criticism, even if it is done in blunt terms. I believe that it helps us improve.

    Your comment made me think of why I've become a regular reader and contributor to the blog. It's mostly because of the comments. Rex is such an excellent solver that his finding one easy or challenging doesn't mean much to me. I never play his videos. I've usually researched entries I don't know before coming to his Word of the Day. I think what I like most about his evaluation of the puzzle is his distaste for some clues and entries. I'm a critical person myself and I enjoy comparing my annoyances with his.

    Finally, in what way does the NYT puzzle pretend or allege that it is the gold standard of puzzles? Its reputation comes from others as far as I know.

    lol 11:27 AM  

    @Rex- You love this, right?

    Horace S. Patoot 11:30 AM  

    There's no accounting for taste, but I thought this puzzle was much more enjoyable than the usual Tuesday, not only because of the little loops, but the upside-down loop (POOL), the ORBITS, and all the Os, Ps, and Ls it was peppered with. I guess I just like a puzzle to be something more than a struggle to remember difficult words, and this one satisfied that for me.

    I don't believe there are buildings that are called "laboratories". A building might contain an admin room, a janitor's closet, perhaps a classroom, a couple of bathrooms, and a lab, but no chemist will ask directions for the nearest "lab room".

    AliasZ 11:32 AM  


    I was watching the movie The Houseboat (1958) while I was entering the name of the film producer last night, and remembered that Ms. Scicolone had a steamy affair with Cary Grant during the filming of that movie. The affair actually started during the filming of their previous movie together, The Pride and the Passion (1957). Cary Grant fell in love with her (who wouldn't have?) and proposed marriage, even though he was married at the time. She decided to marry the aforementioned producer instead (1957), even though he was still married to his first wife. Because of this their marriage had to be annulled, but after the producer finally divorced his first wife in 1965, he officially married Ms. Scicolone in 1966 and henceforth became known as Signor SCIcolone.

    All these romantic entanglements were running through my mind as I was entering PONTI into the puzzle and watching the houseboat float out into the river.

    Here is a CHANT you may hear in a lamasery.

    Here is a different type of CHANT not heard in a lamasery.

    retired_chemist 11:37 AM  

    Medium-challenging. A lot of fun but in fairness I agree with Rex et al.: there is a bunch more dreck than I think there should be. Not unfair since there weren't any Naticky crosses.

    Wondered why my time was kinda slow until I realized it was 16X15.

    Not sure where @Z (or anyone else) finds people who talk about LAB ROOMS. Usually went into several LABs a day for some 50 years and cannot recall ANYONE EVER using that term. The mass spec room, the balance room, the clean room, yes, but not LAB ROOM. First wanted LAB AREAS, which term describes parts of multipurpose rooms. LAB is short for laboratory. No question.

    Re the consistently negative tone of Rex's comments - it's his business. I look at their validity and, agree or disagree, I often learn.

    Thanks, Mr. Wechsler.

    Joseph Michael 11:43 AM  

    Didn't really care about the loops or the theme. Way too many names made this frustrating to solve since you either know a name or you don't. Liked CANOODLE and the clue for TEN OF, though the latter seemed too tricky for a Tuesday. Otherwise the fill was below PAR.

    As for the criticism debate, @Garth's comment is a great example of being critical without being nasty.

    Mohair Sam 11:48 AM  

    Liked this one. Played medium/tough for us. No problem with the iffy fill when the constructor is constrained by the theme (lotta OO's and LP's to work around) - as long as the theme is as clever as this one.

    @NCA Pres - I'm not bothered by the drive-by shots at Rex any more than I'm bothered Rex's sometimes nasty shots at WS and constructors.

    @Mathguy - Agree completely except for last paragraph - I know that Will Shortz has used terms such as gold standard (if not that one in particular) in describing his puzzle.

    @Rex - Doubling down on what @John Child said: HERAT is the third largest city in Afghanistan - we've been involved in war there for 13 years. . . . I was going to castigate you for considering it a too-tough-for-Tuesday clue in spite of easy crosses, but I see many posters here agree - and many haven't even heard of the place. Makes me understand why our politicians are able to keep feeding our young people to the war machine - nobody's paying much attention.

    Teedmn 11:55 AM  

    Hard for a Tuesday for me - was surprised to see 24 minutes had elapsed because I hadn't felt it was that difficult. But the Texas section had me using the theme circles for help as I didn't know HARPO or OCELA.

    Had gruNT rather than CHANT at first (don't ask, I can't explain it :-) ). And having DIE in for "Schedule for takeoff?", I was really hoping it wasn't going to be about living wills or some such thing - glad it was on such a current topic.

    It is very COOL here today, expecting a high of 4 above. We don't have much SNOW, but what's here is staying for a while.

    Thanks, Mr. Wechsler, for a LOOPy puzzle.

    Doug Garr 11:55 AM  

    I'm beginning to agree with the critics who find Rex far too tough on the puzzle constructors and Will Shortz. Part of the problem is that Rex is writing for an elite audience -- the top solvers and constructors. I think this is a mistake. So many people go to this site who are amateurs (like me). Rex's standard for a "good" puzzle are impossibly high. I guessed right away he would like the theme, and then snivel. And hate the fill. Many of us like to find four or five obscure words we have to get with crosses. It's part of the fun of it. It's one thing to have high critical standards. But....I think he has to ratchet it back a bit. I have to laugh. If one of his students complains about a grade, I'd love to a be a fly on the wall for that conversation.

    Anonymous 11:57 AM  

    Do you like any puzzle these days?

    nick 11:59 AM  

    A dreary puzzle. And Swift is a satirist.

    old timer 12:08 PM  

    Any puzzle constructor worth his salt could have gotten HERAT out of there. But why would said constructor want to? HERAT is a lovely answer, familiar to all who followed Georgie's Adventures in Missionaccomplishedland, and I'm sure there are many of us who wrote HERAT down immediately upon knowing it was an Afghan city with five letters.

    Was a trifle tough for a Tuesday, I agree. But it would have been quite easy for a Wednesday. And the theme was, well, cute.

    joho 12:12 PM  

    Reading the comments makes me want to reinforce my admiration for the theme and its execution. Consider how difficult it was to pull off with 8 LOOPS -- that's 32 circled squares -- in the grid and still make ANY sense with the fill! Difficult indeed!

    Masked and AnonymoUUs 12:31 PM  

    har. Loopy.

    Eight sets of looped LOOP, looped into a giant loop. With a 16-long loopy revealer down the center. Well, hey -- what could possibly go wrong, tryin to fill that grid?

    @63: Mornin, sunshine. Shall we look on the bright side of the bed today, mon amigo? Cue the bullets:

    * No school today. Even tho schOOL is just itchin to get into the LOOP action.
    * Got both yer POMP and POMPOMS, all in one puz. Kinda cheery.
    * The circles. Always adds extra interest to the grid. Hell, I've started usin the circles in runtpuzs, even tho they've got nothin to do with the theme. They're just so day-um ... cheery!
    * That movie about how to kill off the head of North Korea is doin better at the box office. Puz celebrates it, with a cheery PINKO entry.
    * HERAT. Clue this up with: {Male subject in 43-Down}. Makes both entries positively sparkle with ... oh, what's the word ...
    * ACELA OCELO. Now, hmong, @63... how often do U get literation like that? Do I see a little of old Mr. Smileyface startin to peek out?...
    * TENTO. The Masked Man's faithful "in reserve" sidekick. Less used, because his enormous size is pretty hard on his ponti, Scout. Nostalgia. Cheery.
    * SESE. Odd double-direction entry, considerin it is in the SWSW. Makes one ... snicker.
    * Harlarious DIETPLAN clue. Made me spitoo my cinnamon roll.
    * OOO. Saved the one I just knew you'd like best for last. A smooth, deftly executed weeject. Admire its symmetry. Its shapeliness. Its perfection. har

    Cheer up, @63.
    Who luvs U, baby?


    p.s. Truly monumentally superb thUmbsUp TuesPuz. Somethin right outa the Great Desperation Era.

    Bird 12:33 PM  

    Liked the rotating LOOPS and didn't mind most of the full. SHOT PAR is fine. SNOOKI, RECOPY, ALOES and the extra DE LOOP not so much. And WTH is with the clue for 56A?!

    Oxhead 12:37 PM  

    I often check in just to see the answers after I finish, but I long ago stopped reading the blog because Rex has got some sort of bug up his rear. His incessant complaining grates.

    Honeysmom 12:41 PM  

    What's going on lately with Tuesdays? Sadistically constructed and chosen to please the masochists?

    Lewis 12:49 PM  

    Factoid: SWANs are revered in Hinduism, and are compared to saintly persons whose chief characteristic is to be in the world without getting attached to it, just as a swan's feather does not get wet although it is in water. (Wikipedia)

    Quotoid: "Keep IN MIND that the true measure of an individual is how he treats a person who can do him absolutely no good." -- Ann Landers

    Anonymous 1:29 PM  

    Rex is full of pure vitriol and bile. It ruins his ability to say anything useful about a puzzle.

    M and Also 1:54 PM  

    OOF. I guess I got that gridarea incorrect. Wondered, why everybody was sayin that. Wrong again, M&A breath. New Solvers: Let this be an important lesson to U -- always check yer crosses out. Even tho TENTO is better.

    Unfortunately, that kills off both TENTO and OOO, leavin poor @63 in a state of incomplete cheeriness. Fortunately, we had a few unused bullets, "in reserve"...

    * ROO and RALPH. Two Comment Gallery regulars! Always cheery to see them made famous, in the puz. ...and they both made it into the LOOPs of honor, to boot.
    * SOLI COPT. Evokin fond memories of that Pegasus dude, that flew too close to the sun. Way back in his salad days, he was better known as the Solicopter. Cheery times. Bet @63 lectures on some of this old stuff. But I digress.
    * ILO. Decent replacement weeject. Stiff reply to "ECCE!", in the old days. More cheery times. Oddly, its loop-worthy letters were eschoowed, by the puz themers. Go figure.



    SenorLynn 2:05 PM  

    MSNBC reports that if Las Vegas gets SNOW on New Years Eve--which has never happened there--they'll have more SNOW in Dec than Chicago or Cleveland. How's that for a LOOPDELOOP!

    Last Silver Ceelo 2:18 PM  

    As further help to the New Solver, here is a more complete list of puz lOOps...

    * MOOP loop.
    * MOON loop*.
    * NOOS(E) loop. need to kinda "sling outa" the loop, at the end.
    * COOC loop.
    * SHOO loop.
    * OOOO loop. (!!)
    * FOOL loop*. M&A got snagged up, in here.
    * ECOO loop.
    * HOOR loop.

    This covers every possible lOOp. I really wouldn't bother, tryin to find anything further, there. Do not try this at home.

    SNOOKI?! I miss so much, just workin crosswords all day...

    * anagrammed.

    Hartley70 2:28 PM  

    I have no comment about the puzzle that took me 39 minutes because of the #€%*=~ app that misbehaves ever since I updated the NYT app yesterday. It has the NYT logo and I believe it is Across Lite. Anyone have this happen?

    Benko 3:07 PM  

    @Casco: Diagramless puzzles do have to conform to diagonal symmetry, like normal puzzles, so once you figure put the top part of the grid, you have also figured out the bottom, and vice versa. Often you can work from both sides inward as the best method. There are usually tons of cheater squares in a Diagramless; rarely do they end up looking like a grid that would be publishable in a standard crossword outlet.
    @lewis: They used the word "disparagingly" as a qualifier, so I think it's ok. I doubt many people feel as strongly about a political slur as they would a racial or sexist one.
    --grew up a tarheel in Greensboro N.C.

    Benko 3:14 PM  

    I don't think Rex is intending to write for an audience of the top constructors and solvers. If he is, he is failing miserably, as they aren't reading. Most of them used to read this blog but got gradually alienated by the growing negativity. The top solvers and constructors are fans of crosswords in general and most don't like to see their beloved hobby trashed. I was speaking to the very elite solvers at last year's ACPT on this very subject, and they confirmed that they used to enjoy reading this blog but never come here anymore. One expressed the sentiment that it's a shame Rex's online persona has gotten so sour because he's "a sweetheart in real life." Personally, I don't read nearly as much as I used to.

    Anonymous 3:21 PM  

    Thanks for that info Benko--yeah that totally makes sense. I've been reding or visiting this blog off and on for years, and the changes for the worse in tone and quality have been striking. It would beggar belief to think that anyone who truly loved crosswords, or who was a talented constructor, would cme here for any reason except to see what idiocy rex was spouting these days. It does make me wonder about the man's mental health, but I suppose it's probably as simple as pure burn-out. Shame.

    evil doug 3:29 PM  

    You talked to *some* of the "very elite solvers"--those who attended the ACPT-- and *some* of those--like a very vocal Acme--who don't like to face criticism have indeed bailed. But Michael has thousands of followers, some of whom are 'elite solvers' who don't need to attend tournaments to validate their skill or otherwise can't make it.

    Your evidence seems pretty limited and anecdotal. I'd suggest that many who regularly lurk and/or post here like a little juice in Michael's criticism. If we agree, we grin in glee; when we disagree, it leads to some energized debates. That's why I stop by, anyway...


    Steve J 4:00 PM  

    Not everything is to everyone's taste. And even things that are too my taste have periods of wearing thin or are just not appealing as they once were.

    The reasonable thing to do in such cases is to find something more to my taste, or to move on to something else. Constantly bitching about it accomplishes nothing aside from making me even more cranky than I already am.

    Some people like what Rex does. Some don't. Some have opinions in between. Some come here more for the thoughts of commenters than the thoughts of the blog owner. (I largely fall into the last two camps.)

    What is incomprehensible to me is constantly complaining about something I'm under no obligation to use (or read). What's even more incomprehensible is continuing to use (or read) something I have no obligation to, and for which there are other alternatives. If this doesn't work well for you, stop torturing yourself and find something that is more to your liking.

    Or just skip reading Rex and focus on the comments, if you enjoy being part of the discussion. There are regular posters I routinely skip because I don't personally enjoy their comments (and I expect there are regular readers who skip my comments for the same reason, and that most both skip and are skipped). I'm never going to call them out for not being appealing to me, because that's my issue, not theirs. I skip quietly and read the stiff that does interest or entertain me. It's easy to do. And it's easy to do if the commentor one doesn't want to read is Rex. Hell, he's the easiest one to ignore.

    I, for one, would enjoy more puzzle discussion and more discussion of topics and ideas inspired by the puzzle, and less carping about how someone said something. And especially less armchair psychoanalysis. Yes, I can (and do) skip that. Until whatever point I find I'm skipping a larger and larger portion of the comments, at which point it's probably time to find something else to do.

    Bob Kerfuffle 4:03 PM  

    @Casco and @Benko - While I hesitate to try to look like an expert, because I'm not, I must respectfully tweak Benko's take on diagramless crosswords.

    A diagramless does not necessarily follow standard crossword symmetry, nor even left/right or top/bottom symmetry. I have done diagramlesses in the shape of robots, and less symmetrical shapes which I can't recall.

    However, any good diagramless will have a statement regarding its structure. In the case of the AVCX puzzle, you will find this information at the bottom left of the page. Of course, with odd shapes you usually get clearer clues to guide your solve. (I had to Google the AVCX half to death - so much pop culture I don't know!)

    Nowadays the Times, for one, insists on printing a blank grid with a diagramless, so they also make it possible to find where the first letter goes without fishing around. (This information is also given for the AVCX.) I liked the old days when there was no grid, and you just grabbed a piece of paper, started filling in answers, and let them linkup as you saw identical letter strings.

    Z 4:04 PM  

    Hmm. Elite? I don't think someone who can't break 6 minutes on an easy Monday qualifies. I enjoy solving everyday and I comment about everyday. If having an opinion makes one elite then I'm in. I find OFL consistent and mostly fair, although he'll never be a politician. If you want different feedback, Rex has kindly posted links to other blogs right there on his page. The links are there every day.

    The other thing is Rex rarely discusses a constructor negatively, he's pretty good (though not perfect) at keeping it to the puzzle. That some readers can't see the distinction says more about the reader than Rex.

    Anonymous 4:06 PM  

    "Any constructor worth his/her salt isn't going to let that **** stand." THAT's not discussing a constructor negatively?! Z, do you even read what he writes or do you just worship him blindly?

    Zeke 4:07 PM  

    I would love to have an honest count of all those who
    a) Complained about Rex's criticism of the fill and,
    b) Actually, honestly, spotted the full conceit of the LOOPS, i.e. that the LOOP squares vary from one another in a very specific fashion. The letters in the LOOP square rotate clockwise one click clockwise as you rotate around the loop of the LOOP squares clockwise starting at 12.

    I myself totally missed the LOOP conceit when solving, to me it was just a bunch circled loop letters, forming a loop. I greatly appreciated Rex's efforts to carefully examine the puzzle and point that out. I never would have noticed that, and frankly I'm sure many, many others missed it as well.

    If I were the constructor of this puzzle, I'm sure I would have appreciated his pointing it out, as otherwise many people would have missed it, missed the whole point of the puzzle.

    So, Rex did what I'm guessing is a massive service to the solving community by pointing it out, and being quite laudatory about it. He also pointed out what was where the puzzle fell short, and was critical of it.

    Why is the negative criticism invalid and the positive criticism acceptable, even welcome? Criticism has to address all of the good, the bad, and the ugly, otherwise it's just nonsense - everyone gets a blue ribbon and a pat on the head for being well above average.

    Sfingi 4:08 PM  

    Two things I liked: I actually used the theme to solve the puzzle; and there were 2 mini-themes - Food for Fido and toon dog.

    Otherwise, easy for a Wednesday (on a Tuesday), which means I didn't have to Google, but never heard of some stuff.

    Anonymous 4:48 PM  

    Zeke pay attention. Nobody is saying the negative criticism is invalid. What we ARE saying is that ad hominem attacks on the constructor and the angry tone of his screeds are uncalled for. There is a difference, and there's no need to ignore it simply because you are one of the kissers of rex ass who defend him no matter what putrid miserey spews from his maw.

    evil doug 4:54 PM  

    "...you are one of the kissers of rex ass who defend him no matter what putrid miserey spews from his maw."

    Yeah, you're a good resource for preaching against ad hominem attacks....


    'mericans in Madrid 5:15 PM  

    Did this one pretty quickly (in Madrid) passing it around not just with Mrs. 'mericans but also with our son.

    Didn't find the puzzle too hard, because we could figure out most of the obscure answers from the crosses. Have read enough on Afghanistan to have heard of HERAT. And know enough Deutsch to get ERDE. Anybody who saw that great flic, Grand Torino, would have heard of the HMONG. Work for another inter-governmental organization so ILO was a gimee.

    So, were the stars aligned in our favor (clearly they weren't for Rex) or was it not all that hard overall?

    Where we totally Naticked was at the crossing of OC_LO and R_N. American sponges aren't sold in France, and cartoon chihuahuas don't get an airing.

    Otherwise, MICE puzzle; CHANT complain. ADIOS YENS!

    Mohair Sam 5:50 PM  

    Speaking of the HMONG people . . . next time you buy a quilt in Amish country here in PA you'll find that much of the very fine work is done by Hmong immigrants. It's a wonderful story of two diverse cultures coming together. Excellent series in the Allentown Morning Call on the subject - Google "Hmong people in Pennsylvania" and you'll find the story (I don't know how to link).

    Benko 5:55 PM  

    I didn't really want to name names to quote a private conversation, but these were some of the best known people in solving. The general consensus is that they learned a lot from the blog in its early days and haven't been back in a while. If there are unknown, anonymous solvers out there who consider themselves as good or better than people who have proved it year after year in public...I fail to see how they qualify as the "elite".

    jae 6:02 PM  

    @Steve J - I was in the process of mentally constructing a comment on all of this when I got to yours. Thanks for saving me the time and effort.

    @NCA - WS has commented here on a number of occasions.

    @Casco - I hope you've blocked out a large chunck of time for the AV meta series. I took a quick look at them and concluded my bride would not be pleased if I went into a puzzle hibernation for several days. Oh, I'll do them, I just won't make it by the deadline.

    Unknown 6:39 PM  

    Just FYI - From Rex on Facebook today:

    "Today someone reminded me that my Comments section still exists. I don't read it any more. My mom, however..."

    Anonymous 7:22 PM  

    And Evil Doug, an original KRA (kisser of rex ass) member, chimes in with his 2 cents. Surprising he didn't talk about shooting at gooks with rex back in nam.

    OISK 7:43 PM  

    I enjoy reading Rex's comments. ( I enjoy AliasZ more, but Rex needs to be more strictly focused). This was a very tough Tuesday for me, although, unlike last Tuesday, I finished it. I finished last Friday's puzzle faster! Like the theme, and the clever rotation, but Snooki, Ren, (Hugh) Laurie, Ceelo (Green) Johnny Olson, Ocelo - way outside my wheelhouse. In fact, only the "Ren and Stimpy" that inhabits that portion of my brain that stores proper names that mean nothing to me, saved me from a DNF with OCELO. "Ironist" is really a word??? Guess so...

    BillyC 8:01 PM  

    Anon7:22 --

    While ascribing behavior to a Evil in Nam, your choice of (pejorative) language ascribes a less-than-admirable persona to yourself.

    Anonymous 8:12 PM  

    BillyC, well done! That was ALMOST English.

    BillyC 8:35 PM  

    Anon8:12 --

    By Jove, you're right! "Persona" is Latin.

    Z 9:12 PM  

    @Barany and @RetChem - I wonder if LAB ROOM is a small school thing. It seems perfectly natural to me, a graduate of a 1200 student college.

    @Commentariat - As the past few days should remind all of us, there is no way to have a discussion with anonytrolls. Silence works best.

    Anonymous 9:56 PM  

    Excellent comments by NCA.
    The ass-kissers can be found at the NY Times "blog" if you can call it that. Delayed, sanitized,
    and overseen by a control freak
    (not you Deb.)

    Anonymous 10:15 PM  

    Z, is that your example of "silence?" Seems, rather, uh, NOT silent to me.

    Andrew Heinegg 11:15 PM  

    Well written and AMEN!

    Anonymous 11:18 PM  

    Just go in a direction away from this blog so the rest of us don't have to read your sniveling drivel.

    Andrew Heinegg 11:24 PM  

    Well reasoned and well stated ; now, if only the whiners would read and heed your words;

    Andrew Heinegg 11:27 PM  

    Oh stop using bloggers own words against them! Can't they be hypocrites without your noticing?!

    Anonymous 8:45 AM  

    I knew RP would diss this as soon as I saw the name of the constructor.

    Anonymous 11:34 AM  

    I'm not entirely buying that a PINKO is a socialist. Technically that's correct according to my Apple dictionary as well as Webster's. But the connotation clearly refers to communist sympathizer, not socialist. Some here see it as a slur. Not really. PINKO just means you're a light red communist. Not all in. Just sort of in.

    On the other hand by one account and definition TARHEEL should indeed be seen as racist or certainly seen as sympathizing with slavery. In the commonest explanation Carolinians earned the name by fighting the Union and holding their position as if they had tar on their heels. I don't know about you, but for me killing to defend slavery is nothing to be proud of. And I love NC. Still I'll admit the name has lost a bit of that bite.

    Anonymous 2:45 PM  

    Hey, NCA - 1) This is a democracy and 2) Get a life.

    spacecraft 11:49 AM  

    This one was we-ERDE. I had to fill out the gridspanner by crosses. Too many DELOOPs. The center was thus very tough: I kept trying to fit SATIRIST into 45a, but it wouldn't cram. IRONIST? Is there such a thing? Why, yes there is. Has the word ever actually been USED? Couldn't prove it by me. And that famous REDTOP grass. Man, if I ever saw redtop grass I think I'd yell "FIRE!" Or maybe it's some really fine, "hot," cannabis.

    I share OFL's admiration for the clever rotation of the individual LOOPs, but not his condemnation of the fill. Is there some stuff that ought not to appear on a Tuesady? Sure. So we'll call this m-c for a T, same as he. But: there are no

    --> RRNs or dir.s
    --> letters as letters with a word
    --> awkward partials (well, OK, TENOF, but at least that's fresh)
    --> overworked xwordese, with one exception (ALOES).

    I think the fill is pretty darn good. Hand up for thinking those LABROOMS are, um, painted green.

    Overall: kinky revealer but tightly executed theme; mostly solid and interesting fill. B.

    rondo 1:14 PM  

    I cannot find one bad word to describe any puzzle that has RON smack dab in the middle for all to see. Especially when it sits directly above HARPO, which was my late father's nickname from childhood until the day he died.

    I didn't think the fill was so bad, even with all those 3s.
    For a Tuesday, I think is rates quite high.

    Even though I don't have cable SNOOKI was a gimmee; too much time spent in line at the grocery and one knows all sorts of things you'd never seek out. Like "Famous Person" Kim K. as noted on the Super Bowl ad.

    My wife is a clean freak so OCELO was a real gimme. I'm forever buying those.

    Will we nevermore have numbers?

    DMG 2:01 PM  

    Lots of stuff I didn't know, but given an assist by the letters that had to appear in the LOOPs, it all worked out! Loved the clue for DIETPLAN, and agree with all who found IRONIST weird. It just doesn't feel like a real,word.

    Wonder why people take the time to,read and reply to comments that bug them? I just scroll down for the good guys. Hi @M&A, @Lewis, @Z, @Chefb and all the others who contribute to,my day,


    Ginger 4:35 PM  

    Trolls are like spoiled children, they will say anything to get attention.

    When I clicked on a link posted by @Alias Z, I accessed the super bowl ad for Fiat, and the 'little blue pill', which I watched in full. And had another good laugh. Also enjoyed the CHANT.

    As a pilot, I always wanted to try LOOPDELOOPs, but alas, I'm too chicken. Really admire those that can do them, and add an additional LOOP besides. Loved the theme, enjoyed the puz, even with a bit of drek. If that's the price to pay, IMHO it's worth it. Thanks JW

    rain forest 4:42 PM  

    Totally agree with @Spacey about this puzzle, a semi-kinky but well-constructed effort. I guess LAB ROOM and OCELO (say what?) rankled, but only because I worked in a LAB for years, and I don't know from sponges.

    Unlike @DMG, I tend to read most of the comments, though I bog down in some of the wordsmith fanciers' contributions. Too cute by half, no, whole.

    I used to be negative about @Rex's negativity, but I'm trying very hard to understand why, for example, he considers some fill bad. I liked SHOT PAR. I know I'll never know why partials are looked down on, especially if they are in the language. Crosswordese I see as a necessary evil/crutch/glue most of the time. Anyway, I read the blog just about every day, and those that @DMG pointed out are great contributors, as are most of the syndilanders.

    Hey! teetsi 222 Can I call a 6?

    rondo 5:40 PM  

    @ rain forest - YESSS! Anything resembling a number should count if it's there in the captcha.

    Anonymous 8:45 PM  

    When did the setting of the Island of the Grand Jette become a part and not an isle?

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