Flag carrier of Japan / TUE 2-10-15 / Where redneck gets red / George who signed Declaration of Independence / Higgledy-piggledy

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Constructor: Kurt Mengel and Jan-Michele Gianette

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Sick day — phrases meaning, vaguely, "ailing," are clued as if they had specific relation to some occupation:

Theme answers:
  • OUT OF SORTS (17A: The ailing postal worker was …)
  • FEELING PUNK (24A: The ailing rock star was …)
  • UNDER THE WEATHER (38A: The ailing meteorologist was …)
  • WAY BELOW PAR (47A: The ailing golfer was …)
  • IN THE DUMPS (59A: The ailing trash collector was …)
Word of the Day: George WYTHE (50D: George who signed the Declaration of Independence) —
George Wythe (1726 – June 8, 1806) was the first American law professor, a noted classics scholar and Virginia judge, as well as a prominent opponent of slavery.[1] The first of the seven Virginia signatories of the United States Declaration of Independence, Wythe served as one of Virginia's representatives to the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention.[2] Wythe taught and was a mentor to Thomas JeffersonJohn MarshallHenry Clay and other men who became American leaders.
• • •

Tuesday being Tuesday. This was pretty painful from start to finish. Got the first theme answer and just sort of slumped here in my chair. Four more of these groaners *and* I have to blog? So I won't dwell on it. First, puns, yuck. Second, the puns are neither great nor consistent. We've got one (FEELING PUNK) that virtually no one says (anymore? Maybe they said it at some point, but not in my lifetime / in my vicinity). Then we've got another that is an obvious, ridiculous cheat. If you want them all to be parallel (and you do), you can't add "WAY" to beginning of them. WAY BELOW PAR is as real / valid as WAY OUT OF SORTS, i.e. no no no. You feel BELOW PAR. "WAY" is an adverbial cheat to make symmetry happen. No. You have to stop yourself when stuff like this happens and find a better way through the forest. Well, maybe you don't, since the puzzle was somehow accepted and published, but … I'm still gonna say you do.

[This movie is great]

And the fill—well, actually, it's a mixed bag there. I like a couple of the longer Downs (namely SHOOT 'EM UP and STEEL BANDS) (my daughter plays in one of the latter). But the rest of the grid feels like it was filled in a tin-ear, careless kind of way. I'll eat my hat if this was software-assisted—there are just too many weird, rough parts that could've been smoothed out. Multiple HOME PLATES—that's a long answer where you could add color and interest to you grid, and instead all I can think of is "they don't come in sets." You go with that answer only if baseball is a foreign concept to you. And WOMYN, dear lord. I live my life surrounded by feminists of all stripes, and except in some kind of weird, retro '80s/'90s ironical fashion, no one, I repeat, no one, actually calls "Half of humanity" WOMYN. It could make a cute answer a. on a different day of the week, and b. with a much much better, more appropriate clue. But here, with this clue, no. And then, in the massive outlier category, we have WYTHE. Who? PSHAW to that. This is a Tuesday puzzle with familiar, sub-rudimentary fill, and then (completely unnecessarily, as this grid could've been filled infinite ways) you plunk down some guy who signed the Declaration of Independence and was never heard from again? Lastly, there's just the overall quality of the short fill, which is demonstrably poor. ODON SUEY OLES DAT APER ANA ASTO OSAY. This is a 78-worder! That's the max. You are not going to get an easier grid to fill, and you can't (please, I'm begging you) just fill it with "whatever works."


No, one last thing. FEELING PUNK has a weak connection between clue and answer. All the other clue/answer pairings have close, obvious connections; meteorologists deal with WEATHER, golfers try to shoot under PAR, and so on. But only a small fraction of "rock stars" have anything to do with PUNK. It's like the clue writer doesn't really know the topic and assumes that rock = punk = "whatever, I don't really listen to it." No HOME PLATES for this puzzle!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


RAD2626 7:25 AM  

Thought the theme was actually okay and Tuesday-ish. Agree with Rex re fill. Did not like it that much. Totally guessed on the W of HAWS/WOMYN and the H of WYTHE/DOHA and was 2 for 2. Might not get me to One of those HOME PLATES but felt pretty lucky.

Hartley70 7:37 AM  

This puzzle was a downer said the elevator operator. Are there any of those left? I loved their white gloves. It was a meh for me, except for WOMYN which I actively disliked. I found it to be about the same difficulty level as yesterday.

chefbea 7:43 AM  

Thought it was a great puzzle...I happen to love puns. Try to post one daily on face book. Might even use some of these.

Also love stew!!!

Anonymous 7:46 AM  

Easy peasy! I thought the groaner puns were cute, but I agree that adding "way" in front of "below par" was a cheat. I actually left it blank at first because I thought surely it couldn't be that.

Aketi 7:52 AM  

TMI alert for Z

Even ty(u)ping one handed on the IPad (which I realized is actually only three fingered) I instafilled this in less time than yesterday.

@NCA president, the whole point of doing the puzzle on the IPad in bed while sipping coffee is to delay getting up for the day. So I actually prefer it when I have to google enough to increase my solve time to the point that I can actually sip a second cup.

If the puzzles continue to be this easy, I'll have to handicap myself further and try it with my big toe. Wondering if Rex finished this in less than a minute.

Unknown 7:57 AM  

Easy...bit of a yawner.

Anonymous 7:57 AM  

Are the solution times on the NYT website legitimate? It shows times under 2 minutes, and I could not fill in the puzzle in that short a time even if I knew all the answers without reading the clues.

jberg 7:58 AM  

Is there some trick to remembering which way is gee and which is HAW(S)? I can never remember, and had to get it from the crosses. I also would have said it was used with oxen, not horses, but I could be wrong about that.

I never got a paper yesterday, once again because of snow. My university rescheduled yesterday's classes for what used to be a holiday, and is now threatening to reschedule others on weekends. I can handle that, but they better not touch spring break.

Otherwise, pretty much with @Rex, especially on WAY and PLATES. OLES almost as bad. As for WYTHE, should have been clued as "first law professor, whose name is an anagram of the name of a father-son-grandson succession of artists." Or something like that.

Teedmn 7:58 AM  

I tweaked my back last night, doing that strenuous activity of changing clothes, so I feel OUT OF SORTS though not too down IN THE DUMPS, since I can at least walk. Thus, when I DNF'd this easy puzzle, I didn't care as much as I might normally.

I thought it was going to be WYTHE where I went wrong but it was NiT for NOT, due to NOT reading the clue all the way through (when will I learn?)

I agree with @Rex's points but it was a nice Tuesday puzzle, so thanks Mr. Mengel and Ms. Gianette.

Danield 8:04 AM  

Anyone else having trouble with the iPad puzzle app today?

Anonymous 8:11 AM  

Just started reading this blog last week. Should it really be titled "Rex Parker Bitches about the NYT Crossword Puzzle"?

Unknown 8:14 AM  

Had to re-install the iPad App to make it work. Very frustrating.

Anonymous 8:17 AM  

Crack ,as lips...chap


RooMonster 8:19 AM  

Hey All !
Agree with FEELINGPUNK. Wha?? Held me up on the NE corner, that, and WOMYN didn't seem correct. Almost wanted PUke for PUNK!

64A, ADULT, could have been clued so many ways, how did it end up XXX?

The rocket scientist was ... burnt out
The brain surgeon was ... out of his right mind.
The cook was ... feeling fried.
The Army private was ... ill at ease.
The veternarian was ... sick as a dog.


Lewis 8:20 AM  

I agree that WAY is superfluous and that I've never heard anyone say that they were feeling PUNK, and I've never heard of WYTHE. If @AliasZ doesn't come up with some good 11-letter theme answers, I'm thinking this should have been one of those puzzles for the constructor to desert, decrying that there weren't more possible answers for a terrific idea, to go with UNDERTHEWEATHER, OUTOFSORTS, and INTHEDUMPS.

I liked the offbeat NOT DAT as well as SHOOTEMUP. There was some tired fill. But unlike with Rex, it wasn't painful from start to finish for me; it was a good brain waker. Thank you for that, Kurt and Jan-Michele.

Danield 8:23 AM  

@Alec Schwartz

Thanks. That did it. Should have thought of that myself.

Tita 8:24 AM  

@jberg...not much of a mnemonic, but for me, the phrase "gees & HAWS" syncs up with "right & left".

This was easier than yesterday's.
Liked CHAP (I always have at least 3 or 5 blistex or burt's bees tubes scattered around, ASTON Martin, and ADIEU crossing SEEYA.

Even though I was doing this in "competition mode" (hah!), which is the only time I might not notice themes, I did notice the "WAY" being a cheat, and wanted the [DOWN] INTHEDUMPS.
Anyhow, unlike Monday's, I got this one perfect.

Jp 8:25 AM  

Never heard of WOMYN. Felt difficult at the beginning but the theme answers were easy to infer. Puzzle was ok to me.
Every time I come to the site I try to guess Rex's verdict on the puzzle. My record is not much better than even. Go figure.

Lewis 8:30 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 8:33 AM  

Factoid: Half the APPLEs grown in 2012 were grown in China; the U.S. was a distant second with 6% of production.

Quotoid: "Never get a MIME talking; he won't stop." -- Marcel Marceau

Quotoid: "If you were going to shoot a MIME, would you use a silencer?" -- Steven Wright

Ω 8:53 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ludyjynn 8:55 AM  

On my many trips to the Caribbean, 28D was either called 'steel drums' or 'steel drum bands', NOT steelbands.

WOMYN is just butt ugly IMO; sorry, ladies.

WS should have reconsidered the timing of this puzzle; with much of the country enduring a continuous SPATE of inclement WEATHER, nobody needs to be further reminded by the Debbie Downer theme. Right, @jberg?

PAULA Poundstone "funny"? Debatable.

Overall, a meh experience. Rex is correct. ADIEU.

Ω 8:56 AM  

Puns are fine, these could use a tad more groaniness to up their pun game, but seem perfectly okay to me. WAY BELOW PAR sounds okay to me, both in the context of golf and winter bluesiness. OD ON NASAL ROTO? I hate when that happens.

My only criticism of the puzzle is DOHA/WYTHE has to be close to a natick. Qatar (the entire country) has half the population of metro Detroit so I imagine it's capital is as well known as Sana'a outside of Crossworld. George WYTHE is definitely an American Revolution deep cut.

A fine Tuesday.

Generic Solver 9:01 AM  

In addition to the questionable pluralizing of "HOME PLATES", that clue would imply that *all* umpires are home plate umpires, which is obviously not true. "Where umpires umpire?" says to me "*the* place where umpires umpire".

joho 9:02 AM  

There's nothing that will make @Rex OUTOFSORTS faster than a wacky or pun theme! It's a lock!

I enjoyed this is a lot more than he, but do agree about HOMEPLATES. That "S" just shouldn't be there. So I stole BASE from 41A.

Anybody else missing the "DOWN" INTHEDUMPS?


Thanks, Kurt and Jan-Michele!

Don McBrien 9:03 AM  

Messy SW corner - had STEELDRUMS and AKIN then TIED before getting to TOLD. Also DNF because of YSL, DOHA, WYTHE.

Ω 9:04 AM  

They don't seem to be using WOMYN ironically.

Unknown 9:18 AM  

When I finished with error(s) in 20, I found myself mesmerized by [Take too much of, briefly] ODON. That *had* to be the problem, I thought. I mean, if I eat the second to last piece of pie AND the last piece of pie, then I clearly took too much, more than my fair share, and I've committed a faux paux . . . in four letters . . . ??? Not ODON, but what? Or if I polish off a large pizza with pepperoni and, say, sOREL mushrooms in one sitting, thereby snarfing it down [Higgledy-piggledy] AsOK we must acknowledge that [Take too much of, briefly] can mean pure gluttony in addition to selfish indulgence. But in four letters . . . ? Not ODON, but what? The nonsensical ODON didn't represent avarice or gluttony or anything, really. But it crossed well. So if not ODON, then what? And who? And when? Maybe George WYTHE was misnamed? DOHA was misplaced? Or merged with Riyad? Or the Riyad riyal, if it's the other kind of capital? I could not make out my error. ODON?! WYTHE?! DOHA?! INTERROBANG?!?!?!

I got DOOKed, man!

So I rang the bell and learned my lesson. Watch what you eat. Not how much, but what. And that's the MOREL of the story. I AMOK now.

Glimmerglass 9:21 AM  

My father, who was born in 1899, never said anything but "I'm feeling punk" when he was ill (or maybe had a hangover).

Unknown 9:22 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown 9:23 AM  

Did it ever bother you that the word "person" is both gender- and generation-specific? Tsk. Tsk. "Perbeing" please, or if you really must, "perchild."

DShawMaine 9:24 AM  

Have only been doing NYT puzzles (and reading this blog) a bit over a year and even I feel like the theme is tired. Do not subscribe to any Xword pro websites but surely this has been done? Agree with Rex on all counts.

pmdm 9:31 AM  

When people aren't feeling that good, they sometimes say they are feeling below par. I have heard people who are feeling REALLY bad frequently say "I'm feeling WAY under par today." Perhaps it's a regionalism, but I've heard it often enough to be surprised others haven't.

People who dislike, for example, classical music simply can't intelligently critique a piece of music or a musical interpretation. They can certainly express their distaste for the music, but they are too biased to proceed further. (For my own part, as an example, I can express my distaste for country music but I would not see the point of my commenting on a country music song.) [Do you agree, AliasZ?] So people who are not fans of puns can certainly express distaste with today's puzzle, but expressing it as a critique seems to ring false in my ears. Today's puns are for me not particularly funny, but were OK for a puzzle theme. Except that the word "down" should have been somewhere in the grid and linked to 59A. That would have solved the "down in the dumps" problem.

One thing did make me laugh (at myself). I thought I remembered the TV ET Alf having pointed ears, and I couldn't figure out why "spata" meant flood. Dumb.

Whirred Whacks 9:37 AM  

WOMYN made me smile. Reminded me of the "Womyn Drummin" posters I used to see around town in the 90s for female drumming "consciousness-raising" groups. [Perhaps WOMYN is the cultural counterweight to Sunday's NYMPHOS.]

Typical Tuesday for me.

Horace S. Patoot 9:45 AM  

@jberg: I'm with you on Gee and Haw. I checked Wikipedia, and it's the opposite in England. There's also a horrible rhyme there, that's no help. @tita: sorry. I say left and right in either order. I'd edit this comment, but the iPad applet just went crazy and won't let me.

evil doug 9:47 AM  

Highly recommend the movie "PCU", with Jeremy Piven in his first starring role as leader of a fraternity out to trivialize/terrorize the various politically correct groups trying to suck the fun out of college....
Jock #1: [at a party] What's up, babes?

Womynist #1: Pack up your rape culture and take a hike!

Jock #1: [holds up a beer] You want a brewdog?

Womynist #1: We're not interested in your penis!

Womynist #2: Wait, wait, I think he's offering us a beer.

[turns to jock, speaks slowly]

Womynist #2: Um... Yes. We, would like, a beer.

Jock #1: Okay!

[turns around to get a beer]

Womynist #1: So it's like, if you're nice to them, they *bring* you things?

Womynist #2: Exactly.


dk 9:49 AM  

🌕🌕 (2 mOOns)

Feelin' Blue, blue, blue, blue, blue.
Feelin' Blue, blue, blue, blue, blue.
Feelin' Blue, blue, blue, blue, blue.
I'm Feelin' Blue. I'm Feelin' Blue

Apologies to Creedence Clearwater Revival.

And, guess what I penned in for 24a

Found the theme interesting and no doubt hard to pull together but in the end it felt like STEELBANDS were tightening around by puzzle heart.

dk 9:50 AM  

my puzzle heart

wreck 9:50 AM  

I also had ipad problems, so I had to do it on-line. I'm not a big fan of puns, but this was about as "Tuesday-ish" as they come. I don't have a strong opinion either way.

Ω 9:53 AM  

@Casco Kid - Great commentary today. SorrelMOREL, but getting AM OK first helps one avoid that stumble. "AM OK Time" was a great Star Trek episode.

For the literal minded out there dis is not related to DAT, don't let @CK fool ya.

Leapfinger 10:01 AM  

I AMOK with this puzzle: the perturbations were small,and the fun SNEAKed in multiple ways.

There's one MOREL in Llama than Alpaca.
(See what I mean?)

Interesting in a way to see Womyn. Wimmin? Not sure what-all is in a name, @ludyjynn. I was keeping the HOME PLATES breaking when Helen Gurley Brown was still working on a moderate TAn. And I'll take a SNOOTful of PAULA P over the shrill Germaine G any day, [I admit I DO HA at her, ludyjinn.]

@Z, that was fairly scary.

I'm not above bending to the PC in nomenclature to some extent, so...
Tigris, Tigris, burning bright

(That totally ignores the dictum 'if it ain't Blake, don't fix it. Or does it?)

@Roomie, very nice, old CHAP! Inspired me to give her a try.
The ailing...
Financier was feeling poorly.
Ecologist was green around the gills;as was the fisherman.
Marathoner was run down. [def'n 1]
Comforter was feeling down. [def'n 2]
Putin had the Mean Reds
Picasso was blue. Period.

Jan-MicheleG and KurtM, nice work, old CHAPs. Keep on collaborating!

John V 10:09 AM  

Played very easy for me at Westport. Got the conceit which helped in spots. And, yes, WAY was last to fall.

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

Does it really take two people to make a puzzle this bad?

Leapfinger 10:18 AM  

ADULT = XXX because Thirtysomething.
Did like the ODONtoid clue,rather breakneck. (Too specialized?)

The ailing draper CALLS IT CURTAINS
(grid spanner)

@Teedmon, sorry about your back. Sounds like it isn't the first time. Hope it resolves as quickly as it came on.

Steve J 10:19 AM  

Given my strong dislike of puns, it's hardly surprising I was not a fan of this one. But the main problem isn't that there are puns - I've liked plenty of pun-based puzzles before - it's that the puns remind me of the "jokes" my 7-year-old niece tells me. This would have been a great theme if Highlights for Children had a crossword.

It doesn't help that one entry is an archaic phrase that doesn't appear to have been in any recent use (FEELING PUNK), one relies on adding an adverb that works but isn't essential to the phrase (WAY BELOW PAR) and one drops a word that is nearly always part of the phrase (down IN THE DUMPS).

Add in lots of forced and/or just tired/awkward fill - the rightfully and much-maligned HOME PLATES, OLES, O SAY, OD ON (I'm guessing Casco was not the only person to get dooked on that one).

SHOOT 'EM UP was great, but otherwise this fell very flat.

Gracie H 10:21 AM  

Theme was OK, but fill and cluing disappointing throughout. NOT DAT, WOMYN? And the usual shorts, such as YSL, ORS, IDS, OTT, KOS, STEN, PESO. C'mon, NYT. We're buried in snow here in MA, and temps are about to plunge again...at least please give us a clever, peppy Tues puzzle!

pfb 10:22 AM  

A quick solve delayed a bit because I just couldn't believe PUNK. I agree with Rex on that one. In fact, I agree with Rex pretty much across the board on this one.

Dorothy Biggs 10:34 AM  

FWIW, I didn't have trouble with my iPad app.

@Aketi: I'm guessing, unless you have a butler, you had to get out of bed to get your coffee, no? I do that and then head for the couch.

As for the puzzle, I felt like this should have been a Monday and yesterday the Tuesday. I went through it quickly, all WYTHE aside.

And I concur with Rex... puns, ugh. When will constructors start working in irony or satire or even sarcasm? Why the pun fixation? There are other forms of humor that use word play... take knock knock jokes for instance.

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

Wouldn't a golfer who was feeling below par actually be feeling good?

Teedmn 10:54 AM  

@Leapfinger, thanks for the kind thoughts.

@Casco, shouldn't that be "perkid"?

Whenever they announce PAULA Poundstone as one of the guests on " Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" my husband and I always cheer. I find her hilarious on that show, though I've never caught her act, so maybe it depends on context.

mac 11:00 AM  

Puzzle nr. two in Westport, and I can't even remember if I had a mistake at Wythe/Doha.

Otherwise, I liked shootemup, and I just now figured out what hunts and pecks for types means....

Feeling puns 11:03 AM  

Pardon my rusty brain, but I don't see where all the people who profess to despise puns are coming from. My problem being that this theme doesn't involve puns. It simply links professions or personal activities with phrases that denote being ill or ill at ease. In my lexicon, that constitutes word-play, not punning. No meaning of a word or phrase is altered; they are only juxta'ed in different-than-usual ways.

Odd, in any event, that some people apparently think that being phobic about puns (or classical music) is an occasion for pride.

Merle 11:20 AM  

Very very easy. Answers practically filled themselves in. Liked what Rex didn't like. So what if hardly anybody, or even nobody, says "feeling punk" any more. No one says "egads", or "sirrah", or "I'm hep to the jive", or "I fain would meet that yonder lass" either, but does that mean these the words in these phrases have no place as clues or fill? Liked clue and answer for"womyn", also. Nothing wrong with a retro reference. If we accept "kos" for 37 outcomes of Muhammed Ali bouts, why not accept "womyn"? Both sets of clues and answers come from a particular era. So what?

AliasZ 11:21 AM  

Nothing good ever comes from over-analyzing the theme of a Tuesday puzzle. To me it was cute and perfectly suited for the day of the week.

If it were me, I would've added a little twist to it:

The ailing Michelangelo was FLAT ON HIS BACK.
The ailing dentist was DOWN IN THE MOUTH.
The ailing Picasso was IN A BLUE FUNK.
The ailing co-writer was PALE AS A GHOST.
The ailing rookie fisherman was GREEN AROUND THE GILLS.

But that's just me.

@pmdm, I agree. Any comments on a theme based on puns that start "I hate puns", then proceed to explain why they are bad, is not worth reading so I skip over them. It would be equal to reading a crossword critique that starts: "I hate crossword puzzles." Some of OFL's blogs do come off sounding like he hates puzzles, but I think that is just a falsie façade.

But even if I don't like jazz, rock or country music [I do like some of these, by the way] but I happen to come across a well-written critique or deeply-felt and sincere analysis by someone who obviously loves those genres, I can thoroughly enjoy it to the point of almost wishing to be a part of it. At my age however my tastes have had a chance to mature, and the ever-decreasing time allotted for me allows very little leeway -- by choice, and by necessity -- to explore alternate venues.

Oh, and I liked today's puzzle. ASTO ASTON, AROSE is AROSE is AROSE. O SAY, is ODON the new DOOK?

How about some STEEL BANDS?

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

@Evil Doug - Any point you were trying to make was totally obviated by the reference to Jeremy Piven.

grammar nazi 11:30 AM  

Alias Z, did you mean "if it were I...?"

GILL I. 11:34 AM  

I always thought Higgledy-piggledy was a grocery store.
I'm more of a wimmin girl (hi @Leapy) because I don't know how to pronounce WOMYN.
This was just fine for the dreaded Tuesday...I too didn't see this as a pun puzzle - just a cute fill in the blanks sort.
Off to Tahoe and hope we catch some snow!

Lewis 11:47 AM  

@teedmn -- I saw Paula's act last year, and she was very funny. Darker humor than I was expecting, and wonderful ad libbing off of audience comments. Worth seeing if it ever comes your way...

Benko 11:52 AM  

I was thinking the same thing. I don't see how the theme answers in today's puzzles were "puns". They were just existing phrases quoted in a new context. To me puns involve a twist in the actual wording of an existing phrase and that didn't happen. ( Interesting, to me --when I mistyped "happen" just now my autocorrect changed to "baller"!)

Joseph Michael 11:53 AM  

Don't mind the puns, but the theme answers seem inconsistent with IN THE DUMPS referring to a psychological problem and the other three referring to physical ailments.

Liked SHOOT EM UP and ASTEROIDS and thought NOT DAT for DIS was kinda cute. Puzzle doesn't deserve the trashing it got from Rex, but did leave me feeling a bit OUT OF SORTS.

Masked and Anonymo6Us 12:09 PM  


Some might call "left shark" on a themer or two, for various reasons. Most of these seem to be reasons to feel good, for the chosen jobs...

* OUTOFSORTS. As in: nothin more to do in the mailroom, it's Miller Time.
* FEELINGPUNK. If U are Taylor Swift, this might not be a good career move. If U are Lady Gaga, just a costume change.
* UNDERTHEWEATHER. Depends on the forecast, whether this is ok. Hail: nope. Sunny and 70: yep.
* WAYBELOWPAR. Most golfers would kill something to get to there. Certainly a groundhog.
* INTHEDUMPS. Ambiguous. Has the trash collector fallen into the business end of the garbage truck?
* SICKASADOG. Now here, for instructional purposes, is an example that leaves little doubt. Wherher U are a vet or a Wrigley Field hot dog vendor.


Feeling puns 12:10 PM  

Thanks. I suspect there are other intelligent wordsmiths around who would agree with us on that point.

As for the happen/baller bollix, what I've noted is that autocorrect seems to takeinto account nearbykeys that could produce a mis-type (or mis-tupe). So the H is just above the B, and the P is just above the L. Autocorrect apparently 'thinks' a double/triple typo is possible. You may also have potentiated that substitution by previously using the word 'baller'. After I had twice entered my brother-in-law's name, autocorrect automatically capitalizes Bill every time.

Grammar Fascionista 12:16 PM  

@grammar nazi,

You should be so lucky as to not need to worry your little head over that ... if it were you.

Fred Romagnolo 12:21 PM  

This blog would lose a lot of fun without @AliasZ. I wonder at his (her?) imaginative wit. Not to mention good taste in music. @grammar nazi also performs a good reminder. almost all of the @anons I could do without. And, finally, I wouldn't want to be without @Evil Doug.

JFC 12:22 PM  

I really liked this puzzle. Now I feel bad that Rex didn't share in my joy....


Fred Romagnolo 12:26 PM  

I don't comment on Monday Tuesday puzzles, but did want to say that about the blog itself.

Anonymous 12:27 PM  

I thought this puzzle was a put-on. I guess not. It took two people to come up with this? This is the worst puzzle in recent memory. I feel entitled to complain because I am a home-delivery subscriber!

dick swart 12:59 PM  

The puzzle was Tuesday except for that Virginia signer guy.

But Rex's review has taken up most of my morning because of the inclusion of the Portlandia segments.

The show is brilliant and the spread of further references at the end keeps you clicking for 'just one more'!

chefbea 1:06 PM  

@Gill - it's Piggly Wiggly

And that reminds me..did you hear about the pig that had trouble with his eye??? He had a sty.

Anoa Bob 1:24 PM  

Now you turn to the left when I say gee,
You turn to the right when I say haw,
Now gee, ya ya little baby,
Now haw, ya oh baby, oh baby, pretty baby,
Do it baby, oh baby, oh baby,
Boogety, boogety, boogety, boogety shoo.

I heard somewhere that the title of Chubby Checker's song was originally "Mule Time" and that he used "womyn" instead of "baby" in the lyrics.

I grew up in farming country in TN and my uncle still had a mule, mostly for nostalgia's sake since most everyone else had gone to tractors, and I got to plow a few times behind him---the mule, not my uncle. Don't recall using gee or haw, just some clicking sounds to catch the mule's attention and then a gentle tug on the left or right rein to get him to turn. Most of the time I didn't have to say or do anything. Even mules can figure out that when you come to the end of the field, you turn around and start back.

If ASTEROIDS & STELLBANDS pass muster, why not HOMEPLATES? All of them exist in pluralities in the real world. The crux of the matter for me is that the base word or phrase in each case is one letter short of its designated slot. POC to the rescue!


Dorothy Biggs 1:34 PM  

To those of you who think people who dislike something aren't qualified to critique it: What?

First, just because you love a genre of anything doesn't qualify you to critique it anymore than someone who doesn't. I have heard many people critique stuff they like and their attempt is abysmal. Love of a thing does not a critic make.

Second,a good critique involves giving solid reasons to back up the assertions. Taking away critiques of anything by people who don't like the thing is absurd. Giving a thoughtful defense of why you hate/dislike something is sort of, you know, giving a critique.

What's more, if you insist on following your logic, if someone loves humor then they are (by your narrow definition) qualified to critique puns.

Methinks you punsters protest too much. Not everyone likes puns and they are right to critique if they wanna.

Steve J 1:50 PM  

@Feeling puns: "Puns" may not be the best way to describe today's themers, but I can't come up with a better term.

As far as expressing the opinion of not liking them: It's an expression of likes and dislikes, which we all have. More pertinently, in the context of commenting on the puzzle, it's acknowledging a bias that naturally affects my opinion of a puzzle (and a flag to those who don't like those who don't like puns, so they can easily skip my comments, roll their eyes, etc.).

Aketi 1:55 PM  

@ NCA President, who needs a butler when you have husband who gets up early? I compensate by helping our son with his french and chemistry homework when he needs it, which is typically after 11:00 pm.

@dick swart I ODED on the Portlandia segments through my second cup of coffee which made up for my unprecedented first cup solve time.

mathguy 1:56 PM  

@Feeling puns, @Benko: I was agreeing with your comments and went to the online dictionaries. The definitions of "pun" are broader than I thought.

Wrt people bragging about disliking puns and classical music. When people ask me what I did and I tell them that I was a math teacher, they invariably announce proudly that they hated math in school.

john towle 2:04 PM  

If a piggy in higgledy-piggledy or Piggly Wiggly loses its voice, is it disgruntled?



AliasZ 2:59 PM  

@NCA President,

Nobody is arguing the right of anyone to critique anything they want. It is a free country. Whether it is a legitimate critique or just an opportunity to express one's distaste for a genre or a style, is up to the individual reader to decide.

Expressing and accepting criticism is a very personal thing.

I prefer to read critiques of books, movies, music of any type, theater, or arts in general, written by people who are immersed and fully invested in their respective field, thus clearly demonstrating that they know and care more about it than I do.

Any critic who reveals early on that they know or care about a field, style or genre less than I do, or that they outright hate it, runs the risk of making everything they may say afterwords tainted and unworthy of my attention.

The freedom to critique therefore demands the freedom of the reader to decide whose criticism to consider legitimate and whose to ignore.

LaneB 3:19 PM  

Must have been easy since I finished relatively fast and no Googling.
Does anyone know why LMS no longer contributes to this blog? Her comments were both clever and personal. I miss them

Fred Romagnolo 3:24 PM  

@Mathguy: exact same response when you tell them you were a history teacher. So what weirdness in people like you and me that we liked those subjects!

Dorothy Biggs 3:26 PM  

Yeah, except that maybe they did once like it and have immersed themselves and have come out the other end hating it (like me and religion)... and they just skip the niceties and intros and get right to the point.

How would you know if you dismiss what they have to say out of hand?

And seriously, this is just a comments section of a xword blog.... it's not a peer-reviewed consortium of humor experts. Our opinions, no matter how extreme, are really just all in fun.

Leapfinger 3:42 PM  

I'll side with Isaac Asimov against any- and everybody.

This was found under the heading "Tarzan's Tripes Forever". Proceed at your own risk.

Stan Kegel tells us, “This pun has been circulating around the internet in various versions. It was originally written by science fiction author, Isaac Asimov. Here is his version of the pun.”

As is well known, in this thirtieth century of ours, space travel is fearfully dull and time-consuming. In search of diversion, many crew Members defy the quarantine restrictions and pick up pets from the various habitable worlds they explore.

Jim Sloane had a rockette, which he called Teddy. It just sat there, looking like a rock, but sometimes it lifted a lower edge and sucked in powdered sugar. That was all it ate. No one ever saw it move, but every once in a while, it wasn’t quite where people thought it was. There was a theory that it moved when no one was looking.

Bob Laverty had a heli-worm he called Dolly. It was green and carried on photosynthesis. Sometimes it moved to get into better light and when it did so it coiled its wormlike body and inched along very slowly like a turning helix.

One day, Jim Sloane challenged Bob Laverty to a race. ” My Teddy,” he said, “can beat your Dolly.”

“Your Teddy,” scoffed Laverty, “doesn’t move.”

“Bet!” said Sloane.

The whole crew got into the act. Even the captain risked half a credit. Everyone bet on Dolly. At least she moved.

Jim Sloane covered it all. He had been saving his salary through three trips and he put every millicredit of it on Teddy.

The race started at one end of the grand salon. At the other end, a heap of sugar had been placed for Teddy and a spotlight for Dolly. Dolly formed a coil at once and began to spiral its way very slowly toward the light. The watching crew cheered it on.

Teddy just sat there without budging.

“Sugar, Teddy, Sugar,” said Sloane, pointing. Teddy did not move. It looked more like a rock than ever, but Sloane did not seem concerned.

Finally, when Dolly had spiraled halfway across the salon, Jim Sloane said casually to his rockette, “if you don’t get out there, Teddy, I’m going to get a hammer and chip you into pebbles.”

That was when people first discovered that rockettes could read minds. That was also when people first discovered that rockettes could teleport.

Sloane had no sooner made his threat when Teddy simply disappeared from his place and reappeared on top of the sugar.

Sloane won, of course, and he counted his winnings slowly and luxuriously.

Laverty said bitterly, “You knew the damn thing could teleport.”

“No, I didn’t,” said Sloane, “but I knew he would win. It was a sure thing.”

“How come?”

“It’s an old saying everyone knows. … Sloane’s Teddy wins the race.”

RooMonster 3:48 PM  

"Picasso was blue. Period."
That was awesome!

Someday I'll be as clever as you!


Anonymous 3:55 PM  

Can someone explain the answer to 31D?

Anonymous 4:01 PM  

I find it ironic that the same person who won't read a review of someone who doesn't like a puzzle is the same one who gave a lengthy review of a puzzle he did not do because he did not like the constructor.

Myuen88 4:11 PM  

I had FEELING BEAT, which still is a far cry from "rock star," but much closer than PUNK.

Ω 4:18 PM  

@Leapy - You might enjoy this book of limericks by Asimov and John Ciardi. In fact, I think just about everyone here would enjoy this serious work of poetry, just don't read it while drinking hot liquids.

Wikipedia on Puns aka "paronomasia."

Ω 4:20 PM  

@mathguy - I forgot to add, "I hate math" I could tolerate. "I," or worse "we can't do math" drove me over the edge more than once.

Numinous 4:24 PM  

What do you get from altering skirts?

What do you get from rodeo competitions?

What do you get from sitting around in igloos?

What do you get from writing too many compound sentences?

What do you get from mooning in outer space?

GILL I. 4:30 PM  

@the Leapster...."What was that laser I sawed you with last night?"
I'm having some trouble tuping while riding in a car.....
@john towle....OINK
Opinions are like Victoria Secret bras....Some are DREAMY, some are FRUMPY and many are FALSIES.

Unknown 4:43 PM  

Crossword construction must be a difficult and time consuming thing.
You have to squeeze in things and stretch clues/definitions/discriptions to make the squeezed in, not quite customary results, challenging to quess or figure out.
Many critiques seem to ignore what is necessary make it a puzzel, make it hard to solve.

Carola 4:51 PM  

Liked the puzzle, thought it was a fine example of its kind.

For the record: I still use FEELING PUNK, and WORT-FM in Madison, WI features "womyn's music" on Sunday mornings at 11:30.

I liked the SNOOT and the SNEAK bracketing the upper tier and HAITI x STEELBANDS.

Don McBrien 5:32 PM  

@Anonymous: Air Nipon Airlines

bwalker 5:39 PM  

I had to reload the app on my phone to get the main puzzle to appear, though the mini popped right up. I finished almost four minutes faster than my average. Woohoo!

I am just happy to get through a puzzle instead of missing it by ONE letter (which happened twice last week). Puns, groaners, stretched clues, oddball spellings -- these things among others are par for the course in crossword. The only time they're not fun is when I don't get them at all, like Thursday rebuses.

@Carola -- Just the other day I asked my daughter if she was still FEELING PUNK.

@Leapy -- Great! We called those shaggy dog stories when I was a kid and LBJ was president. Tortured set-ups to forehead-slapping punchlines like, "The koala tea of Mercy cannot be strained." So bad, what's not to like?

foxaroni 5:52 PM  

Really, when it comes down to it, aren't we ALL "under the weather?"

The L A Kid 6:00 PM  

Asteroids (plural)is the actual name of the arcade game.

mathguy 6:23 PM  

It looks like Birdman is going to win the Oscar. Among the nominees, I preferred Boyhood and American Sniper. My favorite wasn't nominated -- Nightcrawler. What did I miss? The fact that it was shot as if it was one continuous sequence didn't do anything for me. I wasn't moved by Michael Keaton's performance.

smalltowndoc 6:41 PM  

OMG, this never happens...I agree 100% with @Rex. This was bad for so many reasons.

jae 6:42 PM  

Medium for me too.

@Feeling puns, Benko, & Steve J - Stephan Pastis of Pearls before Swine fame does great tortured puns. I'm with Steve J on the theme answers, they seemed more like grade school jokes than true puns.

The first Portlandia episode of this season is devoted to the origin of the Women and Women First Bookstore. It's worth a look.

I started to put in HOME PLATE but stopped when I saw I'd have a leftover square.

Anonymous 7:16 PM  

Anonymous@ 4:01: It's not ironic, it's hypocritical. That's the way he operates.

Liz 8:38 PM  

Anyone else have trouble with the iPad app? Every time I tried to load the puzzle the app crashed. ???

wreck 9:29 PM  


Yes, that is what happened to me last night - I had to go to the NYT website to work the puzzle. I tried again today and got the same result. I'm hoping that the release tonight works so I don't have to re-download the app and lose all my history and settings!

Camryn Farmer 10:13 PM  

I really don't get it. Try to check this out! warwick associates scam


Why do you do crosswords, Rex?

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Burma Shave 8:45 AM  


over which they’d OTT to STEW.
Now their ASTON is a REPO,
and it’s FAIR to bid it ADIEU.


spacecraft 12:03 PM  

My kid got the mumps,
And is covered with warts.

But out on the links
The PGA star
With each bird putt he sinks
Goes one more UNDERPAR!

Yeah, most of what OFL said, and one more: just as you can't (or shouldn't, anyway) adverbially extend your letter count with WAY, so you should not curtail the count with an adverbial omission, to wit: DOWN. No one says "INTHEDUMPS" without the DOWN preceding.

I don't think of "ski resort" when I think of TAOS. Maybe it is, but to me, 4 letter ski resort = VAIL. Trouble is, that doesn't anagram into anything. I had to go east and find ASTO and the shining star of today's grid: SHOOTEMUP (which is what you do to those pesky ASTEROIDS). Thus my first theme entry was 59a, and I thought these were all going to be different expressions of illness with [DOWN] understood. It really threw me off. Flag for the unforgivable omission of DOWN.

It's two-for-Tuesday hankie day: WOMYN. I was torn between accepting SEEEA or WOMYN, neither of which made an iota of sense to me. The clue included a reference to feminists, but I have never heard or seen that word with a Y where the E should be. Still, why should the clue mention feminists? Half of humanity IS women, whether you're a feminist or not. So I screwed up my courage and entered a Y. Whew!

Too many defects, but SHOOTEMUP saves this one from a failing grade. D-.

rondo 12:04 PM  

Unfunny and a bit off, but not exactly terrible. Only write-over was STEELdrumS.

For me WAYBELOWPAR would be a good thing, not sickening at all.

Never saw WOMYN that I can recall, and I've been around.

ODON is another dook in my book.

OLES could be Svens' friends, in jest.

HOMEPLATES don't come in sets like bases.

PAULA Poundstone misclued - not funny.

OSAY, on second thought maybe this puz wasn't very good.

DMG 6:05 PM  

Considering the many wonderfully awful "pungestions" generated by this "painful" puzzle, I'd say it was a winner. Sure brought out the remarkable hidden talents of this blog world. Just glad I don't live near @Leapfinger and the like. My husband's punning nature is all this mere mortal can stand.

Hey @Spacecraft-didn't know you are a poet!

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