Country singer Clark / TUE 4-14-15 / Blue Moon lyricist / Dwarf planet discovered in 2005 / Old Turkish VIP / Art deco notable / Employee of paranoid king

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Constructor: Bruce Haight

Relative difficulty: Challenging (**for a Tuesday**) 

THEME: EIGHT (36A: Total number of letters of the alphabet used in this puzzle) —

Word of the Day: GIRTHS (43D: Saddle straps) —
plural noun: girths
  1. 1
    the measurement around the middle of something, especially a person's waist.

  2. 2
    a band attached to a saddle, used to secure it on a horse by being fastened around its  belly.
    "a horse's girth"
• • •

So my first thought is "Dear lord, why is the fill so terrible? Like … Terrible. Like, so terrible that even people who only say nice things about puzzles would say it's terrible. Terrible." That was here:


Actually, the moment came earlier, when I went on a SHISH / HIES / REES / AIRES / IRREG run, but SIEGSIEG was the Hitler-esque cherry on the top. SIEG was when I stopped and said "I gotta take a picture of this." Unreal. I took another picture when I hit RAES, but who cares? It was at that moment that I thought "Where are the Os and Us…?" And then I tried desperately to predict what the conceit would be. Why would you do this? What's the hook? But the hook is … [drum roll] … EIGHT. An arbitrary number! OK, so when does the other shoe drop? EIGHT is important / interesting … why? It's April 14, so 4/14 so … [...carry the 7…] … nope nothing there.

So, let me get this straight (str-EIGHT!) … the grid has all the letters in EIGHT … plus SAR? And that anagrams to … something? AH, TIGERS! SHIT RAGE! How about SIGH RATE, as in "This puzzle will make your SIGH RATE high, as you encounter garbage fill over and over and over." Stunning. I give this puzzle EIGHT stars (out of a possible two thousand).

Seriously, I challenge you to find a worse puzzle than this one in recent NYT history. This is rock bottom. (Please let this be rock bottom.)

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. now please read this cogent explanation of the real problem here: "It's All About the Fill" by Evan Birnholz.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 6:38 AM  

Could have been worse. At least the clues used more than eight letters...

Anonymous 6:41 AM  

This was the worst puzzle I have ever attempted in my life. Even it the date was August 8, 1988 I would still think it was horrible.

Lewis 6:54 AM  

I was thinking it was an anagram of HAIGHT (the constructor's name), leaving over RES, and couldn't figure out what the RES stood for. So I came here to find out why these eight letters were chosen.

On Xword Info it's clear that the eight letters aren't an anagram of anything, that this is a set-a-new-record puzzle. Apparently, the record for the fewest letters used in a puzzle was ten, and now the envelope has been pushed.

It was a medium-for-Tuesday solve in difficulty for me. Because of the theme, there was a high occurrence of double letters, 17 (this from your resident alphadoppeltotter). Hadn't heard of TITI, RAREE, or RATTERRIER for that matter. There was not a lot of interest in the answers; it made me appreciate how much more colorful our language is with more letters.

Was the stunt worth it? I don't feel strongly yes or no. It was different to solve, for sure. I like seeing TEES up. Maybe a good title would be EIGHTISENOUGH. Wait...

jon 6:56 AM  

Oh man...that was brutal. I gotta agree w Rex that this is about the lowest of the low. I feel like the constructor said "hey let's make a awful theme puzzle based on terrible fill"...check and check

Thomaso808 7:03 AM  

Sorry, I don't agree. Why all the histrionics? After yesterday's tip from WS about a stunt puzzle I was expecting the worst, but the only fill I really didn't care for was ISHE. I didn't even really mind the RAES because it was fairly clued.

Come on, a puzzle that fills a grid using only 8 letters - why is that not something amazing?

I did struggle with the TITI crossing SETTE -- for some reason I wanted SEPTE -- is that Latin versus Italian?

Anyway, good job, Bruce Haight! I was looking forward all day to what the stunt would be and you did not disappoint!

Lewis 7:14 AM  

No one can pan like Rex. If I were a panhandler, he would be my star client.

Lewis 7:14 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Titi Monkey 7:21 AM  

For once, Rex's scorn is completely warranted. This puzzle was total SHIT.

I'm sure the constructor had a blast and was very pleased with himself. I was mostly bored.


Carola 7:41 AM  

EIGHT letters is certainly limiting, and I'm impressed at all that Bruce Haight was able to make of this. I see that -ER came in handy: EASTER, ETHER, TASTER, SIGHER, STARTER, TITTERS, ERASER, TERRIER, and that some forays into foreign lands were necessary: TRISTE, AIRES, SETTE, TRE, SIEG, AGHA, SHAH, TRE, ETA, ASTI. I enjoyed going along with the experiment.


Dorothy Biggs 7:44 AM  

According to BH's comments on xword, nine was the previous record of fewest letters used. So, eight!

This puzzle reminded me of my life now as I get older and my memory is slipping here and there. Each corner was like a deja vu, but somehow different, so that it was new and yet familiar. I know you, but I can't quite place your face. Oh yeah, double G! Oh yeah, you're that double T guy! SS? gotcha.

Similar, yet different, which is another symptom of getting older. Everything takes on that similar, yet different cast as you experience more and more things. Nothing's new, most everything is just a riff on something else.

So in a way, this puzzle has huge philosophical underpinnings. It's life all wrapped up in a 78 word grid with no cheater squares.

We really should take a moment to contemplate the deeper zen-like quality of this puzzle.

Dorothy Biggs 7:45 AM  

Correction: 10 letters minimum was the previous record.

wreck 7:54 AM  

I guess it was difficult to construct, but it was just a horrible puzzle. Not much else to say.

Juanito 7:58 AM  

A new record, AND using all the letters in your own surname ... pretty impressive, even if you didn't love the puzzle. Props to Bruce Haight.

Juanito 8:01 AM  

Nice - the eight letters spell "Haighters". You gotta like that.

Anonymous 8:03 AM  

"Rex Parker Bitches About The NY Times Crossword Puzzle," episode 9,428

Name that tune 8:03 AM  

Here's the thing. A theme, any theme, is bad, unless it happens to be good. But it has to justify itself to be good, and it almost never does. Why was there a Beatles theme yesterday? No reason; therefore, bad theme (oh, you know I was thinking it even though I let someone far kinder than I write the blog). Why were there 8 letters today? No reason; therefore, bad theme. You get my point (because I make it over and over again). I'll enter the letters in an anagram maker and it'll seem really clever that they somehow make letters that insult the puzzle even more. I'll even make a typo because I can't see through my rage. Rather than even mention the incredible feat of filling in a Tuesday level grid with only 8 letters, I will rant and rave about the stupid concept, the stupid theme, the stupid fill, the stupid editor, the stupid constructor, and anyone stupid enough to have enjoyed the puzzle.

George Barany 8:05 AM  

I won't be writing today about either @Bruce Haight's record-setting stunt puzzle, nor about @Rex's review of it. I'm confident that as the day goes on, more than enough opinions and clever riffs will emerge from the commentariat.

Yesterday, we somehow went from a debut puzzle by @Alex Silverman, its sunny Beatle-esque theme, and its even sunnier review by @Annabel to a dark discussion of the aftermath of World War II. Both of my parents were Holocaust survivors: my father was liberated by the Americans from Buchenwald just about 70 years ago, whereas my mother's stay at Auschwitz (where she was personally whipped by Joseph Mengele) was followed by further horrors at the hands of the Russians. I communicated with several Rex-ites about this off-Rex, and was impressed by their insights and sensitivity to topics not normally covered on crossword blogs. I invite others of you who wish to do so to contact me at my University of Minnesota e-mail address.

Actually, today (April 14, 2015) is a significant anniversary that has been on my radar screen for a long time as a crossword puzzle topic, so much so that I recruited two collaborators and constructed two separate puzzles. The puzzle with @Marcia Brott is of mid-week difficulty, with quite serious content, and has relatively normal dimensions. The puzzle with@ John Child is on the easy side, with somewhat more humorous content, and is Sunday-sized. I hesitate to say more about either puzzle, including their titles, because there is a certain amount (though not much) of overlap in the themes, fill, and clues. Ideally, those of you who are interested will try them both, but not in the same sitting.

Anonymous 8:05 AM  

With today the 150 year commemoration of the Lincoln assassination, I was hoping to find a puzzle dealing with the president or his killer.

tegel 8:06 AM  

I kept saying to myself, "Rex is going to hate this one ... No, Rex is going to *really* hate this one". Pure dull misery until I read your review. Hilarious! I was literally in tears (shit rage put me over the top :-). Thanks for the laugh!

joho 8:07 AM  

LOL @Rex, I knew you would HATE THIS and you did not disappoint. I do not AGREE with you but can see your point.

I'm happy Will took a chance with Bruce HAIGHT'S EIGHT wonder experiment.

RIGHT off the bat I liked that GRETA anagrams into GREAT.

My favorite answer was RATTERRIER.

And kudus to Bruce as there IS not a RESEE or ASTA in SIGHT!

Benko 8:12 AM  

That magician puzzle last year was worse.

crossvine 8:13 AM  

Not a blast to fill, but I wouldn't say it was the worst puzzle ever.

I'll just say congrats on the new record to Mr. Haight. Next time use more letters please. Less is not more.

Rhino 8:20 AM  

While I enjoyed everything about Rex's review (he's at his best when he's in a shit-rage), he was wrong. This is a fun, weird, ambitious puzzle. It may not quite have achieved its ambitions, but it's still, at worst, an interesting failure and doesn't deserve 'Worst. Puzzle. Ever.' status.

chefbea 8:23 AM  

Tough for a Tuesday..DNF. Didn't hate it as much as everyone else. What a great feat to construct a puzzle with only eight letters.

chefbea 8:24 AM  

Also...when will we get to solve the ACPT puzzles???

Z 8:27 AM  

@Juanito - HAIGHTERS! Good one.

I play this game where throwing a round piece of plastic weighing 175 grams while being guarded is important. Because of this I have acquired a wide variety of ways to throw a round piece of plastic using either hand. Before games I will often mess around with these throws to impress new players. In a game I use two throws most of the time and will pull out one or two more in special situations. Those other throws? Just for show. This puzzle is a left-handed scoober thrown I/O (Hi @Seth G).

Besides the fill, this grid has those narrow straits making it solve like three separate puzzles. I have a personal dislike for this kind of grid because it limits the crossiness of the puzzle. There's nothing I like more than crossiness.

Proud Mamma 8:30 AM  

I didn't mind this puzzle, but I guess I just like a puzzle with a cup of coffee. I can usually finish through Thursday and that's my limit. The hate is iver tje too, but I guess it makes your blog more popular. But what about Aggies and Agri?. Don't they have the same root? I am surprised that Rex didn't catch this.

Z 8:31 AM  

@chefbea - I'm through puzzle 5 and then had to do a little traveling. There is an Online Solvers division. It costs $20. Puzzle 5, for the Xth year running, kicked my rear.

Go here if you are interested.

pmdm 8:34 AM  

Outside of getting the feeling very early on that this puzzle was more difficult than normal for a Tuesday, can't say I had any other reaction, negative or positive. Ugliness is in the eye of the beholder. Those who have strong feelings about the puzzle should at least read Shortz's comments about yesterday's and today's puzzles - in xXnfo or Wordblog - to get his viewpoint. Since I myself appreciate stunt puzzles, I can tolerate the occasional compromises needed to construct the puzzles. Some of the previously published stunt puzzles ave been great, and the occasional clunker isn't that big a price to pay for the stunt you like.

Bird 8:40 AM  

Congrats to Mr. Haight on the new record. Does he get a plaque and/or certificate?

Yes, the fill could be a lot better but consider the feat accomplished by using only 8 letters and go easy on the bashing.

John Child 8:46 AM  

@anon 8:05 If you refer to the post prior to yours you might get your wish...

John Child 8:48 AM  

@Bird - He got $300...

Fredd Smith 9:00 AM  

Barany's using this space to promote his puzzles again.

AliasZ 9:00 AM  
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AliasZ 9:02 AM  

AEGHIRST. That's it? Hah, this Haight is a great tease. Greater are his eggs, as is his grit. This is the highest theater. I sit here aghast, heart astir, as he tries his strategies as garage artist. Straight A's, Sir Haight!

Why EIGHT letters? Because he didn't want nine. You try to use only eight letters of the alphabet and write decent prose. A bit of sensayuma and playfulness comes in handy to appreciate what Bruce Haight did here. I still remember another trick puzzle a few years ago in which the only vowel was O. Today's was right up there with that one.

I agree that this was a little painful for those who don't like stunt puzzles, but I personally think a crossword puzzle is the quintessential vehicle for tricks with the alphabet and wordplay.

For those interested, Target has a special on Sensayuma™ this week, and there is a baker's-dozen special on Playfulness® at Dick's Sporting Goods down the block.

A playful mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Danp 9:04 AM  

I thought the puzzle turned out pretty good considering the ridiculous constraints of its theme. That said, the theme made it super easy. I picture Pat Sajak saying, "I'm sorry. There is no N (or L)."

RooMonster 9:04 AM  

Hey All !
Very impressive construction, Mr. Haight(ers) (Nice 'un @Juanito!). I can imagine you getting the idea, thinking it was cool, then pulling out your hair trying to fill it!

I think this is a great puz! For limiting yourself to only eight letters, and to get this puz with actual words and very little dreck, is awesome. I had trouble in the whole SW, from the diagonal blocks down. Not up on my Italian numbers. Couldn't see STARTER SET for some reason. GIRTHS as clued was a new one. Had ASTa, which didn't help either. Also AEGIS, HART, ASTR, all hard to suss.

I'm finding myself disagreeing more lately with the ole Rexster. Hmm...


Blue Stater 9:04 AM  

Thank you, Rex; I feel better already.

DShawMaine 9:08 AM  

I agree with @Thomaso808 and @Juanito and any others who didn't mind this. I thought it was quite a feat and the fill, except for ARTI maybe, was real stuff so not horrid. In fact, I thought Rex would actually appreciate this one, which shows you that after a year+ of reading this blog, and occasionally commenting, I'm just not on the elite cruciverbalists' wavelength. Someday maybe....

Z 9:09 AM  

@pmdm - I read WS's comments yesterday. I thought yesterday's stunt was well worth the (minor to me) compromises in the fill. This one, not so much. Do I think it is "the worst puzzle ever?" No. But this was a puzzle best appreciated by constructors, not solvers. However, I do appreciate the Tuesday placement. Tuesday is the day for puzzles that are a little off the grid.

@Steve J - re yesterday's: "why didn't I know this before?" In its defense, K-12 Public Education, by it's very structure, is going to emphasize what is good about our society. It can only, at its best, provide a basic "what everybody must know." After that we are each on our own to learn what we should know. I find it is always safe to presume that "it's more complicated than that" and "even well-intentioned people mess things up."

Ludyjynn 9:11 AM  

A DNF Tues. puzz. is a RARE event for me. But the cross of SETTE/TITI did me in. (hi, @Thomas). Mistakenly had the French 'septe'.
So no SIEG here, I SIGHEd.

What the hell is SETI?

Thanks, Rex, for the entertaining rant. Congrats to BH and WS on your EIGHT feat. THATS a GREAT gimmick.

RooMonster 9:12 AM  

@AliasZ, floored by your first paragraph.
THAT gets the GIST this GREAT RAG has!
(Of course, my post pales in comparison to yours!)


mathguy 9:15 AM  

Because of his disdain for pangrams, I was pretty sure that Rex wouldn't like today's puzzle, a sort of anti-pangram.

I took out some Scrabble tiles last night and tried to find an eight-letter word using the eight letters in the puzzle. The closest I got was "garithes," which may be Greek for prawn. "Straighter" is a ten-letter word using all eight.

A bit more fun than the average Tuesday.

Anonymous 9:20 AM  

Deb Amlen's Wordplay essay at the Times today seems to be aimed squarely at Rex: " it possible that those who criticize every word in every puzzle are doing so because they have just fallen into a habit?" To whom could she POSSIBLY be referring? Not our beloved leader??!! I guess that's why Rex has an audience of a hundred or so and Deb has an audience of a couple million.

Mohair Sam 9:22 AM  

So SETHS and SIRES were gimmes, therefore EIGHT was the only answer to 36A (unless VINGT?) so I knew I was in for bad fill justified by an amazing feat of construction, and I was. I also knew @Rex would birth a cow, and he did.

But I figure that most NYT solvers would appreciate the gimmick (I certainly did) and those who weren't aware that this was quite the accomplishment probably wouldn't know or care about "fill quality". So we've got a sort of win either way here - and I was fine with the puzz. Nifty construct BRUCE HAIGHT.

@Proud Mamma - yeah, I was a bit AGRI-vated too, maybe he should have used a marbles clue at 5D.

Whirred Whacks 9:29 AM  

I liked this a lot. It confirms the adage that the architect Frank Lloyd Wright used to say to his students:

"Limits are an artist's best friend."

That's because they force you out of traditional patterns to think a little more deeply. By limiting himself to just just eight letters, I think the constructor came up with some interesting answers we wouldn't have seen otherwise!

I very much liked ETHER ("lead-in to net"). I've known Bob Metcalfe since the 1970s. He invented Ethernet on May 22, 1973 at Xerox PARC in Palo Alto. I tweeted Bob last night and told him to check out the clue and answer for 12 Down, and he was delighted!

Also liked GREG (for "Olympian Louganis"). His diving coach, Ron O'Brien, was one of my coaches in college in the late 1960s.

[Never met the SHAH, but I was friends in the 70s with playwright Jerome Lawrence who wrote the stage book for MAME, an answer from Monday.]

Enjoy your Tuesday.

Charles Flaster 9:29 AM  

EZ with a keen appreciation for the limiting 8 factor.
Liked cluing for ERASER, TASTER, and EASTER EGGS.
CrosswordEASE-- TITI, ATRA and ERTE.
Anagrammed the 8 letters into Hair Gest or tale of a barber shop.
Thanks and well done to BH.

Zeke 9:33 AM  

You people are all wrong, and yes, I used all, not each, as you are wrong as a group, not individually. This puzzle is pure genius.

This puzzle is like a black and white photo taken by a master of the medium, such as Ansel Adams or Joseph Stiegletz, and you're all complaining that it doesn't have the color palatte of a selfie taken by some teen-aged girl on her precious iPhone 6 Plus, with its pink case and unicorn decal on the back. You may be used to the full palatte, but it's frequently overwhelming. Look at some iconic B&W photos. Would color have improved this? Who needs color when you can focus on line, form and composition? It's superfluous at best, distracting at worst.

Look at the puzzle in this light and you'll see its genius. The range, both breadth and depth, of emotion as you move through the puzzle is awe inspiring. As an example, merely one of many, You start with GAGA (note the choice here, Lady Gaga would have been the obvious, and cheap choice, a choice not made), flow through THATSGREAT, SIGHERS, you GETSET and end with AHS. If that's not a synopsis of a fully, and successfully consummated sex act, I wouldn't know one. Further, it's confirmed by TASTER over TITTERS.

Please people, look beyond the cheap and gaudy P's, Q's O's. They only distract.

Anonymous 9:47 AM  

Zeke, I agree. I loved this puzzle. I had more fun solving this than I ever had for a prior Tuesday. Isn't that the test? This blog is getting very close minded.

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

Haighted it.

Moly Shu 9:57 AM  

@BillyC, is that you ?

quilter1 10:01 AM  

Finished and said, I'll go to the blog and see if people disliked this as much as I did. Yep.

1820 Stone Colonial House 10:03 AM  

Not challenging for me cause I know 25 of the 26 letters in the alphabet. Somehow I don't know y.

Nancy 10:03 AM  

A cursory glance at the puzzle convinced me that, even though this was a Tuesday, there would be enough of a challenge to make it worth doing. (A cursory glance yesterday had convinced me of the opposite.) And I was right. I even had some writeovers: ESP instead of EEG (tricky clue for a Tuesday) and that led to PITH instead of GIST at 34D. It wasn't especially hard, but my mind didn't wander, either.

As for the 8 letters? I couldn't have cared less. That sort of thing gives satisfaction to the constructor, but has nothing to do with the satisfaction of the solver. At least not this one. Still, for a Tuesday, not bad.

lawprof 10:08 AM  

So...what's the theoretical limit for fewest letters in an English language puzzle? I suppose it's 1: say, all A's, with each entry being clued, "First letter of the alphabet and others."

Mr. Benson 10:09 AM  

I hadn't realized until today how many rock musicians were named Bob. In my mind I had gone through Dylan, Marley, Weir and Mould before even thinking about SEGER. I wouldn't think of Bob as a rock star name, but there it is.

Whirred Whacks 10:16 AM  
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ArtO 10:27 AM  

Now that most opinions have been expressed - I.e. you are either pro the record setting accomplishment of an eight letter puzzle or anti any puzzle that has a bunch of less than Rex-worthy fill - it's clear that your critique is dependent on those basic premises. Put me in the camp that applauds the accomplishment (not that I would go so far as to applaud the inanity of most Guiness book world records).

Steve J 10:28 AM  

I've never understood focusing on letters as an end goal. Letters are simply building blocks. On their own, they're not particularly interesting (once you get past the fact that it's amazing that humans came up with alphabets and writing in the first place). What's interesting is the words they form. To me, focusing on letters is like focusing on screws and nails, rather than on the buildings and furniture they hold together. Admiring a pangram in a bad puzzle is like saying, "that house's proportions are all off, but I'm impressed that they used every available nail on the market!" Focusing on individual letters is like overlooking a chair that falls apart, but admiring that it used only the rare 7/64-inch reverse-threaded screw.

Admiring today's construction stunt, in my opinion, is to ignore that the house is structurally unsound and was inexplicably painted poop brown with puke green trim. ISHE, SIEG, SIGHER (!), SETHS, EEG, ARTI, AGRI, RAREE, SSFTS, TITI, AHS, AST, IRREG, REES, ETA, SHISH, ATHS, TERA, ERTE, RAES, ASTI, STETS, TRE. I probably missed a couple, but that's a ton of crosswordese, abbreviations, partials, forced plurals and things that simply are not in the language (hands up for everyone who's ever said SIGHERS!). Essentially, a third of this puzzle is made up of what gets called, at best, "glue" - the stuff that holds together the larger structure. You often need a smattering of these to hold a puzzle together, and if you have a scintillating theme, stunt or showcase fill as a result, you've got a good puzzle. But not in this volume and proportion. Especially when interesting, zippy fill is so hard to find in the rest of the puzzle (EASTER EGG was about as good as it got).

TL;DR version: Today's puzzle is better proof of the adage "just because you can doesn't mean you should" than any I've seen in a long time.

R. McGeddon 10:31 AM  

This write-up is worthy of the best on Pop Sensation.

I'm almost willing to suspect that this was done intentionally as a sadistic act aimed @Rex. As in, "You're crying? I'll give something to cry about!"

grammar nazi 10:31 AM  

@Nancy, a million thanks for the "couldn't care less," rather than the ubiquitous but woefully incorrect "could care less." You win the gn award for today. This totally makes up for wandering around the park on Saturday with your parentheses open :).

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

lawprof @ 10:08. The answers to your single-letter grid would necessarily have "s"'s, thus blowing the entire concept.

Armagh 10:40 AM  

Sigh. The muse was obviously on leave when this puzzle was created. I am reminded of the (thinking) musician's admonition: Just beacuse you can, does not mean you should..

Nancy 10:40 AM  

Others may dis you, @grammar nazi, but I find you an absolute hoot!

Slow Motion 10:41 AM  

@Ludyjynn: SETI is Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, a program which uses (mostly) radio telescopes to search for artificial-looking patterns in radio signals that might indicate intelligent life elsewhere -- I mean, besides the New York Times crossword -- in the universe.

RooMonster 10:43 AM  

Thanks @Zeke! Apparently, you didn't read my post, I liked his puz!


Zeke 10:51 AM  

With age comes many, heinous, limitations. You're not as fast, as quick, nor as strong as you once were. Worse yet is that you're unaware of these, so you continue to try to do what you can no longer do and look the fool.

Apparently writing sarcasm that actually gets interpreted as sarcasm is one of these age related limitations.


Anonymous 10:53 AM  

That's what's great about @Zeke: broad generalizations that have no relationship to reality. A bunch of people liked the puzzle, a bunch hated it, but we are ALL wrong. Nobody can accuse him of overthinking. Or really, thinking at all.

grammar nazi 10:56 AM  

@ Nancy,
Dis, and people like you, are what get me out of bed in the morning. Right back atcha.

Masked and Anonymo s 11:11 AM  

M&A made a 15x15 stuntpuz once that only used the letter E. Also, one that only used the I and O. 8 letters? Wimpy.

This puz initially bummed me pretty far out, since there, of course, were no U's in attendance. But then I realized that O hadn't made the cut, either. And that G, the consonant that gets no respect, was a star in the show. So, another one of them luv-Haight puz vibes, for M&A.

Meta Puz: find a puz square whose letter can successfully be replaced by the letter U.

Hey, this was a kinda neat Mon-Tues-stuntpuz combo, when U realize that the Beatles once had a song called "Eight Days a Week". Too desperate? Was afraid of that...

Actually, the weejects were pretty respectable today, by comparison. ATHS was a great plural weeject. ISHE was real imaginative. RAREE made me laugh. Closest we get to RODEO.


** gruntz **

RooMonster 11:13 AM  

Well, if I'm the only one who liked it, I guess I'm a fool!

*Does the happy dance*


Anonymous 11:23 AM  

Maybe, but you are one of the hundred or so.

Lewis 11:23 AM  

Factoid: Students of the medieval theologian John Duns Scotus (1265-1308) were the first to wear dunce caps. The idea was the HAT would funnel God’s wisdom into the head.

Quotoid: "The RATE at which a person can mature is directly proportional to the embarrassment he can tolerate." -- Douglas Engelbart

Hartley70 11:25 AM  

I view today as a one off, and an easy one at that. I don't get all the fuss. I'm sure it was an interesting construct and once I began the solve in the NW, it was clear the letters were limited. Of course we were warned to expect a gimmick. Since we have high expectations for our beloved (?) Thursday gimmick, perhaps this Tuesday level fell a little flat for some solvers. I was fine with it and was appropriately amused by the eight letters.

Mohair Sam 11:27 AM  

@steve J - Well said, and point well taken. I need to rethink my opinion of this one.

andy 11:30 AM  

Low point in puzzle-dom produces high point in Rex being an ass-dom. For this comment more than for the whiny review.

Z 11:31 AM  

@Zeke - I think you went wrong with your Ansel Adams riff. If, instead, you had done an xkcd riff your post would have been more clearly satirical. I was 75% certain you were being sarcastic, but wasn't 100% certain until your 10:51 post showed up.

old timer 11:35 AM  

Didn't think of EEG, and as a result was DNF. I hated this puzzle almost as much as I loved yesterday's Beatles puzzle. I get the trick when it was revealed, but still was Not Impressed.

I think there are times when Will Shortz ought to buy a puzzle out of admiration for an unusual feat. And then not publish it -- or toss it into the mix of puzzles on a Sunday.

I agree, it's all about the fill, and this fill sucked (though I can't see what the fuss is about RAREE -- its a legit word that would be fine tomorrow or Thursday),

Don McBrien 11:37 AM  

I liked it. With 365 puzzles every year, it's nice get one now and then that is a little off the wall.

Is this a feat of construction at the expense of the solving experience? Probably a little, but I think this kind of creativity should be applauded.

Joseph Michael 11:48 AM  

This is not the type of puzzle I would like to do often, but I was entertained by the gimmick in spite of the bad fill and my three wrong answers.

Disagree with those who disparage RAREE which is a great word.

Zeke 11:53 AM  

@Z -No, Ansel Adams was necessary. You have to start off with the veneer of artistic merit, and demonstrate an artistic sensibility. To do otherwise would fall into the category of lampooning. Contrasting Ansel Adams with selfies should have been enough. I say this with 100% confidence that I am both correct in my choices, and well aware of my failure.

M and Also 12:01 PM  

@63: U have sinile-handedly inspired m&e to come up with a runt puzzle (rhymes with stunt puzzle), that is worthy of the title "Rock Bottom".



Leapfinger 12:01 PM  

Neato, @Juanito!

@Alias, if anyone wants to get it together, they should turn to you.

@Zeke -- Palette, not palatte. Unless you were conflating 'palate', which @Teedmn may or may not enjoy.
Going further, I think perhaps someone beat you with the ARTI stick.

Yes, the puzzle has its HIES and lows. The start seemed somewhat IRREG, but I quickly got interested in the anagrammar and homonymity of it: GREAT GRETA ETA plenty EGGS ( or EEGS) and REES' Pees' "Forgive her, SIGHER," SETH I, "She AIRES only to TEES." ... Then I realized that Mr. Haight himself had already played that game throughout the grid --- viz to wit: REES/REESES, AIRES/ERIS, AGES/AEGIS, SIGHER/SIRES --- and I realized [as I was sitting on my SETI] that I was being played for a SEERsucker.

Errors on a Tuesday:
Did anyone go with EEG first? Also had SEven before SETTE, and the Alexander who served three presidents? ... Brandy, of course!!

Thought the conceit fun to play, though it did make the solve an order of magnitude easier. It almost had me accepting ATHS. I liked seeing the AGHA and SHAH have a get-together, and was relieved to see SIEG without the usually attendant Heil!

HEIGHT is enough, but it is only improved by the breadth and depth of this construction. Ya gotta love that it had HART. Mr. Haight, my STETS on HAT's doffed to you.

A GREAT Chooseday to all.

Anonymous 12:05 PM  

Congratulations to Bruce Haight on "his great" puzzle.

I liked this observation from MAS yesterday:

It seems to me we have a case of moving the proverbial goalposts. Not enough partials in a puzzle we dislike? Let's see if
we can stretch the "rules" and make up a few more.

and Deb Amlen today (I'm the 2nd to include this):

Is it possible that those who criticize every word in every puzzle are doing so because they have just fallen into a habit?

My own observation:

The commentors here who criticize things like the inconsistent way the theme phrases reversed a few days ago are just sorry twits who hope they can make themselves appear to be clever and important by finding inane ways to knock down the work of others.

I wouldn't want to see trick puzzles like this every day, but it's like watching the folks dunk from minitramps at halftime of a bball game. No, it's not basketball, but it's fun to watch.

I enjoyed seeing and solving this clever little creation.

John Child 12:06 PM  

@anon 9:20 it's not clear to me that Deb Amlen's wordplay blog - the official organ of the NYT - has a hugely greater readership. Do you have data?

As of this moment, there are 47 comments over there and 81 here. That doesn't necessarily mean anything, but it also doesn't demonstrate that she has an audience four orders of magnitude larger as you claim.

Andrew Heinegg 12:14 PM  

I just don't get the point of the eight letter construction. Does it make the puzzle more interesting? Does not seem like it; Rex was pretty rough in his review but, pay attention all you Rex haters who nevertheless read the review and write on the blog, he tells you logical and cognizable reasons why he does or does not like a puzzle. That is one heck of a lot more reasonable than your endless personal attacks on Rex for his reviews.

Andrew Heinegg 12:15 PM  

I just don't get the point of the eight letter construction. Does it make the puzzle more interesting? Does not seem like it; Rex was pretty rough in his review but, pay attention all you Rex haters who nevertheless read the review and write on the blog, he tells you logical and cognizable reasons why he does or does not like a puzzle. That is one heck of a lot more reasonable than your endless personal attacks on Rex for his reviews.

Anonymous 12:22 PM  

@zeke: the reason nobody "gets" your sarcasm is that you are not funny. Good sarcasm incorporates intelligence and humor, neither of which you possess.

GILL I. 12:24 PM  

I finished this last night and was dying to get to the blog. I couldn't wait to read @Rex and get a chuckle before my bed time. Instead, he produced the laugh I wanted this morning. One of your funniest posts in a long time.
Even when a Tuesday puzzle is filled with groans and moans, it does bring out some of the best comments. @SteveJ - always the omniscient narrator, @Zeke with a funny deadpan delivery, and @Leapy - always bound to entertain. Of course it's BRANDY Alexander!
I hope Bruce has some thick skin or perhaps he won't even read this blog. If he does, he should be happy at all the comments his puzzle produced. - Many positive!

Nancy 12:28 PM  

Re: @Zeke's 9:33 post. How can any comment that ends: "Please people, look beyond the cheap and gaudy P's, Q's and O's. They only distract" NOT be a satire? Surely that has to be one of the funnier lines ever put up on this site.

In a more serious vein: I found @Steve J's lengthy post comparing letters to building materials interesting and insightful. Once again this blog has proven to be a lot more fun than the actual puzzle.

Nancy 12:30 PM  

@GILL -- you and I were typing at the same time just now. Isn't it interesting that we responded favorably to the exact same two comments?

GILL I. 12:33 PM  

@Nancy...Hee hee. Don't forget @Leapy!

jae 12:43 PM  

Yes, tough and not nearly as much fun as yesterday's. Didn't hate it though.

@Nancy - Me too for Esp before EEG.

Steve J 12:44 PM  

Evan Birnholz, a sometimes commenter here and a talented constructor, has an excellent counterpoint to Deb Amlen's take on the question of fill and pushing the boundaries of puzzle construction. It probably won't change the minds of people who liked this one, and it'll confirm the take of many of us who didn't, but it's a worthwhile read.

JFC 12:50 PM  

Have I said Rex’s commentaries have been kinder and gentler since his vacation? Well, they have and today’s is no exception. The real Rex posted a comment afterwards.

I keep asking myself (because I know I’m the only one who will answer me truthfully) why do people get so worked up over a Tuesday puzzle? Unfortunately, nobody has explained that to my satisfaction. It’s a Tuesday puzzle with a quirky theme that works only because it’s a Tuesday puzzle. Yeah, it confines the fill a tad. Yeah. It was probably more of a challenge for the constructor than the solver. Yeah, some people want real crossword puzzles instead of gimmicks.

But, life really is too short to bother with all those shortcomings. I say enjoy the moment for what the moment is and today’s moment will be gone sooner than you realize. Rex keeps reminding me of something my father once joked about. He would say, cheer up, things could get worse and so we cheered up and, sure enough, things got worse.


Anonymous 12:57 PM  

@Andrew 12:15. Your blind defense of Rex would be much more effective if it had some basis in reality. The vast majority of people who mentioned Rex today agreed with him, and most of the others disagreed without any "personal" attacks. They attacked his writing, his opinions, and his predictable knee-jerk reaction to this puzzle.

AliasZ 12:59 PM  

I call it a fortuitous circumstance that we were not responsible for critiquing Molly Bloom's soliloquy, or assessing its literary value, in which the writer abandons all rules of prose writing. I can imagine, how in our eyes, the lack of any screws, nails or mortar holding it all together, would have brought that building down in a cloud of dust.

dick swart 1:01 PM  

Rex has overreacted to this puzzle. I am an old guy (80) sitting in a small town in the Northwest with my print out puzzle.

I am doing the puzzle in ink and using a 1940-something Metropol after it was bought by Kaweko.

I am having a cheese Danish and a cuppa Irish Breakfast tea. I am not looking for a solving nightmare on Tuesday. Tuesday is Monday with the brain going into a higher gearing.

I found the cluing and the construction OK for a Tuesday. I never tumbled to the eight-usage until I filled in the answer.

I then thought it was a tribute to both the construction and the cluing that I was into the puzzle and never noticed that the letters were so few.

Anonymous 1:03 PM  

There's that well-known song about tipping a raree. From a long way, I think.

Leapfinger 1:09 PM  

@GILL, I think @Nancy's still disappointed that I'm not a courtly Southern gentleman flirting with her... Or am I??

@John Child, you can't directly compare the two blogs by the comment totals. Deb has to labour under the heavy burden of the NYT improving the commenting system. As it limps into the 21st cent. The less you know, the happier you'll be.

@Lewis, I'll posit the funnel was pointed the wrong way. Ergo the Dunces.

At one point I thought I understood what @Zeke was saying, but I mistook myself[ie]...

@SteveJ, you couldn't be more wrong about the inherent interestingness of letters. For starters, Judaic mysticism posits [I'm growing fond of that word] that the Alef-Bet (which doubles as a numbering system) was God's first and most essential creation. Much more follows. As for the hardware that holds your precious furniture and buildings together, you know that's where the quality, nay, the integrity lies. I'm sure every one of us knows the value of a really good screw.

Someone please feed me a HEATH Bar to shut me up.

Now I'm going to post this and find the latest seti of comments have made this redundant. Again.

Last Silver EasterEgg 1:12 PM  

Most of the Big Blogs didn't like it...
* Rex Parker: "Rock bottom"
* Crossword Fiend: "Use all the letters next time"
* Horace & Francis: "It just didn't do it for me"
* xwordinfo, Jeff Chen: "More impactful revealer... ONLY YOU for a puzzle with only U's as vowels". (!!!)
* Wordplay: "...I don't know...RAREE's not good...Wow. I doff my hat.". (???)

The RexWorld Comment Gallery seems to run about 50-50. faves:
* "I just don't get the point..."
* "I enjoyed seeing and solving this little..."
* "This puzzle has its HIES and lows..."
* "Contrasting Ansel Adams with selfies should have been enough..."
* "Shortz ought to buy... and then not publish it..."
* " a great word"
* "This kind of creativity should be applauded" [here,here]
* "I need to rethink my opinion on this one"
* "A bunch of people liked the puzzle, a bunch hated it, but we ALL are wrong..."
* "Done intentionally as a sadistic act..."
* "I liked his puzzle..."

har. Well done, and thanx U, Mr. Haight(ers). Keep those stunt submissions comin in. Check out the Jeff Chen comment, above, btw.


Benko 1:13 PM  

A aaaa aa aaaa aaa aa. Aaa aaa aaaaaa a aaa. A aa aaaaaaaa aaaa aaaaaaa aaaaa aaaa aaa a aaaa aaaaaa. Aa aaa aaaaaaaaaaa aaa.

(In the spirit of today's achievement, this post is limited to one letter.)

Anonymous 1:14 PM  

I think most of the people on this board treat Rex as they would their own toddler: petulant, immature, and prone to tantrums, but adored and entertaining nonetheless.

Anonymous 1:16 PM  

Wow @Benko how did you do that? That was an amazing feat of construction! It must be some kind of record.

foxaroni 1:19 PM  

@Z-- loved your 9:09 a.m. pun, "Tuesday is the day for puzzles that are a litt off the grid."

@JFC--looooved your father's joke: " we cheered up and, sure enough, things got worse." I will be using that one. ;-)

Wasn't there a presidential candidate who used the slogan "Tippecanoe and RAREE, too"?

Don McBrien 1:27 PM  


Don McBrien 1:27 PM  

^^^ Beat you. :)

Anonymous 1:28 PM  

A few nice sentences in this puzzle:

A new fashion line from a pop singer: GAGA AIR(e)S TEES.

Comment to Kabibble's band: THATS GREAT, ISH(e).

When grammar nazi is right and Billy C is wrong, does gn get a case of the SIEG TITTERS?

Comment after a bad essay in a blue book: ERASER, GET SET!

Jewish grandmother's condition: STRESS SIGHER.

grammar nazi 1:42 PM  

Anon @ 1:28, thanks for the shout out, but I'm sure you realize by now all of your examples are not "sentences." I did enjoy all of the phrases, however.

Elephant's Child 1:44 PM  

That's good, @Benko. The uvula looks good. Now would you turn your head and cough?

@Anony 1:03, yes, the raree was some gigantic hamsterISHE thing that had to be disposed of by driving [from Ohio?] to the NJ Palisades in a dumpster. Ergo, it was a long way to ....

I before E 1:44 PM  

A couple of years ago Matt Gaffney used just eight letters in a puzzle with the meta answer PORTUGAL. That was much more elegant than this one in that there was a reason for the eight and as I recall no compromise in the fill. In any case this at best tied the record.

Anonymous 2:04 PM  

Hey grammar nazi: Is "bite me" a sentence or a phrase? 'Cause bite me!

Laurence Hunt 2:05 PM  

Thank you Juanito. Rex, I guess you are one of the "haighters." I agree that there is some uninspiring fill, but if this is indeed a new record (8 letters), then congratulations to the author.

Martel Moopsbane 2:12 PM  

@ Benko - is the clue "Jagged form of lava"?

steveo 2:25 PM  

How about a rebus where every square has a picture?

Unknown 2:51 PM  

I appreciate the thoughtful comments that Deb Amlen and Evan have written up. Rex's comments today (and too frequently, lately) are much like the crosswords he has been panning: full of "bad fill". I applaud Deb for suggesting that this has become a habit.

I tend to agree with the comments of Dan on Evan's blog, who wrote:

"2) Will S. has made it clear that he doesn’t let the ugly stuff get in the way of the other features that provide fun. He caters to a community far larger than the elite solvers, constructors, bloggers, and commenters that we all see. So it may be tempting to see validation in the narrow community, and to believe that one’s preferences are absolute objective facts. But they’re not. (I’m not even saying that “ugly fill” isn’t widely seen as ugly, but I bet the vast majority of solvers are happy enough to fill in the grid and move on to the next word. It’s not an objective truth that ugly fill invalidates the whole grid.)
3) Puzzles like this, as well as “fill-compromised” quad stacks, provide different experiences, in terms of how you solve by developing connections from one word to the next. If I only saw puzzles that had the attributes I’ve decided I like best, then I’d miss out on other ideas and experiences."

For the record, while this wasn't my favorite puzzle, I did get a kick out of seeing that it was pulled off with only 8 letters.

Anonymous 2:55 PM  

@Susan McConnell: You have a huge tongue and even bigger ears, so I'm not sure we can trust what you say. However, I agree completely.

Wood 2:57 PM  

I think the NYT needs to start putting trigger warnings on puzzles like this. We don't want people to be experiencing uncomfortable feelings based negative predispositions.

Anonymous 3:28 PM  

I wonder if any 'HAIGHTERS' out there would be swayed if it was mentioned that it could be argued that this puzzle has 100% theme density.

Style points being the top criterion for Rex is always going to rankle some, but i wish there was less ranting in general, especially when it seems to have degenerated into pointed personal attacks, and more appreciation for his providing a long-running forum for puzzle aficionados.

OTOH, a diversion like the NYTP should be seen in light of what its main purpose should be - light entertainment.

RT - occasionally posting anonymouse (for work-related reasons).

MDMA 3:54 PM  

@Anonymous 10:35 AM

In a record-setting puzzle that used only one letter, every clue would be "Sleep"

chefbea 4:11 PM  


Bob Kerfuffle 4:37 PM  

Thank you, @I before E, for mentioning the Matt Gaffney puzzle done from a letter bank of PORTUGAL. I must have solved it, but I doubt that I got the meta!

In any case, here it is, to compare and contrast with today's offering.

Bark 4:43 PM  

I followed the link in Rex’s critique to Evan Birnholz’s essay. First Evan says “Most importantly, is the final product enjoyable for the solver?” Evan’s “The solver” is of course a non-existent person. And then Evan comments on his own question with this: “That last question is inherently difficult to answer since it’s impossible to account for everyone’s differences in taste.” So, now Evan’s “Solver” is identified as “everyone”. I would say that it’s beyond “inherently difficult” — it’s impossible to use the “pleasure” of either “The solver” or “everyone” as a “most important” criteria for judging a crossword. And what criteria is used to critique Rex when he writes his essay? Is it also “everyone’s pleasure”? I enjoyed this puzzle. The people who respond so badly, do so because their ideas of how things should be done are not only narrow and calcified, but because they can’t seem to put what they think into words and so resort to near-hysteria.

Anonymous 5:09 PM  

Eh, quite boring puzzle. Liked Rex's comment though.

grammar nazi 5:10 PM  

Oh Bark. You know that the word "criteria" is plural, right? Your sentence should be "What criteria are..." (Bonus [on style]: Using the word "so" three times in one sentence is a little clunky, don't you think?)

Evan 5:11 PM  


My criteria is pretty simple -- better fill makes better puzzles, weak fill makes weaker puzzles. Yes, I can expect a few occasional compromises, but there's no reason one can't have a clever theme and hold the fill to a high standard at the same time.

Nobody solves a Patrick Berry puzzle and says to themselves, "You know, I wish this puzzle had more answers like RAREE in it."

cwf 5:19 PM  

@grammar nazi, @Nancy: "I could care less" could easily be parsed as sarcasm. "I suppose it's possible for me to care less."

Anonymous 5:32 PM  

28 and change is double my average time for a Tuesday. This was tough. Once I got the "theme" it was easier to fill.
Agree with Rex on his critique.

C zar 6:24 PM  

TITI? What the heck is that? Sounds like something the constructor was stuck with and had to google to find out if it existed.

bwalker 7:44 PM  

TITI is one half of Titicaca, the lake with the name that cannot be mentioned in a middle school classroom without extreme disruption of the lesson. I must mean something in quechua, but I have no guess beyond that except potty humor.

I like any puzzle i can finish, and I finished today. I did not find it horrible, but enjoyed it. Too bad one can get sooooo good at something it becomes boring and pointless. I am nowhere near that.

Teedmn 8:01 PM  

I didn't Haight this puzzle at all, though I will admit to using nine letters, with P slipping in at pIth for GIST (caught that one) and SEpTE (DNF there). An accomplishment in setting the minimum letter record, a change-up from the average Tuesday theme, and a conversation STARTER SET makes a winner in my book.

Is I SHE the start to a little known Beatle song (I, SHE, SHINE)? Or is it just another DOOK?

And with some slight changes, there could have been a mini Rex Parker blog tie in: Change 37D to the oft clued movie dog ASTA and 46A would be the oft commenting @Tita. And surely 18D could have been clued as "common exclamation by @LMS, var."

@Leapfinger, I did appreciate @Zeke's palate portmanteau.

weingolb 8:23 PM  

It was kind of like accidentally getting chocolate in my peanut butter. A little KenKen action seeped over from across the columns. Solving the puzzle knowing you had only one of eight characters to use did change things up for the solver... It wasn't all constructor as some say.

GILL I. 8:59 PM  

I'm in mourning...Percy Sledge is no longer with us...
I used to play all the disco music in this sleazy bar in Torremolinos, Spain during my summers. "When a Man Loves a Woman" was the number one requested song....I still know all the words. RIP....:<(

SIEG Freedman 9:02 PM  

Oh Bark. You had me thinking I was turning into @grammar nazi, except that I was just going to say that the singular of criteria is criterion. As a third-degree word-nerd, 'criterion' gives me the same kind of frisson that I get from 'octopodes'. So you used 'so' three times; so what? In case you care, you could substitute 'that', 'it' and 'therefore' in the three offending instances, respectively. I could care less. [Meaning I could possibly care less than I do, but cannot be bothered with the energy expenditure needed to effect the change]

@Evan can consider 'criterion', or not, as he chooses. I won't dwell on 'raree', but would definitely be pleased to see 'shivaree'.

Late in the day to finally bring up TITI.

Since they have several dozen different names (in different languages), it seems perverse to run with TITI. Several of the alternates share this apparently common duplicated name characteristic, which allows the naturalist TITI-watcher to exclaim "Luca luca, a mono mono titi songo songo! Ollalla!!"

Despite all that, my preference lies somewhere between the Modest TITI. and the Dubious TITI.

F.O.G. 9:16 PM  

I concur with eight of the above comments. Is that a record?

Bark 9:54 PM  

@Evan Thank you. It’s good of you to respond. I wondered if a person were to be looking for the criteria to create a terrific puzzle — what could be said to him? That’s the kind of “criteria” that I wonder if anybody has put into words. I felt that the suggestion in your essay seemed to be: “It’s most important to do what might please the solver.” But would such a person be satisfied with that answer or still be wondering: How do you please a solver? And in the above comment you seemed to say “Create better fill.” I think the person would still be wondering: What makes some fill better than other fill?

@ grammar nazi, it’s fine for you to have your own opinion, but you shouldn’t pretend that you’re not aware that others have opinions that differ from yours. “Criteria” has been accepted as a singular by dictionaries and also through years and years of usage. English is not Latin, and Latin plural forms do not need to be used when English provides other words. There are a great number of examples to demonstrate this. It’s not wrong to say “stadiums” for one. I suspect you know this, and only pretend you don’t. Pedantic grammer sticklers sometimes insist that we have to say “ignorami”. And style comments coming from someone who refers to them as a “nazi”?

@ SEIG -- thanks

Chad o. 12:00 AM  

If yesterday's theme was four, will tomorrow's be sixteen?

grammar nazi 5:43 AM  

@Bark, your last sentence above proves my point: you are a butcherer of the English language. It's fine if you don't care, but don't try to pretend otherwise.

Aketi 7:32 AM  

@C zar, bwalker, and SEIG freeman, I may not know what Titicaca means in English, but I do know the translation of TITI from LiNgala to English. It it is a far ruder equivalent of the word "beaver" as used to mean a female body part.

After living in Cusco for part of my Master's degree, I decided to take an intro course in Quechua at Cornell. Quechua had such incredibly bizarre and complex grammar that I gave up after one semester. I think even the grammar nazi's might have a hard time with It. About all I retain from Quechua is how to say I love you.

Leapfinger 8:43 AM  

@yoo hoo anagrams to 'smutburger', Good morning!

I see that yoo are one who walks among us [possibly daily?] and has figured out how to create a a new blue faux-blog name. Given your ref to studying in the Andes, I have my personal hypothesis.

I hear you about the TITI implications in LiNgala. For the same reason, I get a not-quite-frisson whenever "Billy" C comments. (Some central Europeans might take my meaning.) He'd be better off being just plain Bill.

PS. I also suspect SEIG Freedman, given an apparent interest in taxonomy.

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

I love some of the phrases in these puzzles: Mr. Armani was a crazy outcast, but ALL Y'ALL MADE MAD GIORGIO ONE OF US. And there must be something one could do with SPAYER ENDGAME, but I'm too sleepy to come up with it.

Anonymous 9:07 AM  

rex, you are so funny

Aketi 10:19 AM  

@ leapy, due to my terrible tuping (or actually tapping on three fingers not even a full hand) skills, I have now inadvertently revealed myself to be a real human being with a REAL, not faux, blues in name. I thought my post disappeared before I could declare that I'm not a robot by clicking on the two pictures of pizza and then clicking on the name/url button.

I usually lose posts rather than post them before I'm finished, I lost the last post just after the discussions on what constitutes a true San Franciscan. The iPad battery died so I was my ackowledgement to Nancy that I read her post and to all the others who wrote about NEEDINESS was lost to the ether. Since I could no longer postpone crunching numbers for tax time, I took a break. As I've been catching up on the goings on over the last week I had to stop trying to drink my coffee while reading to spare my nose from the consequences.

It is also absolutely true that my sister ate an EARWIG when she was a baby to my mother's's's horror.

I hardly ever follow up my LEFTJAB with a right hook. I prefer to follow with a right cross, followed by a left uppercut or a sneaky left hook followed by a flurry of upper cuts. I don't have the reach for a right hook that would be fast enough to be effective from normal stance.

Aketi 10:31 AM  

@ leapy, it seems my tapping ability is so woefully inept that I didmy even manage to post on the correct day. Time to put down the iPad.

krepitch 4:08 PM  

Agree with Zeke.



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PaulMaj 5:33 PM  

Most frequently used in main entries in the Concise Oxford Dictionary are e-a-r-i-o-t-n-s (per ). G and H (needed for Haight or eight) cost a fourfold decline in choices. I bet someone comes up with a seven letter puzzle. Building w.o. infrequent letters might be easy.

PaulMaj 6:26 PM  

Correction to my "fourfold decline": In brief, change it to "maybe about a 25% decline". Details: 400% decline is impossible. I meant that G and H are each used half as often as N and O each are. But, based on (55 pages of words) and on (73 pages), there is only about a 33% increase in words (max of 15 letters allowed, so I repeated the seven most frequently used letters).

spacecraft 10:44 AM  

I recall a character from the old Mad Magazine called "Etaoin Shrdlu," representing the twelve most used letters in English in descending order.

Started out in the NW, and thought I was going to parody the Sesame Street sponsor line: "This puzzle has been brought to you by the letter G." As I worked across to the NE, I started to think: "Sheesh, this grid has more crutches than a cast room." Of course, I fell into the intER net trap; what the heck is ETHER net??

Then as I did the SE, I began to realize that this was deliberate. Sure enough, there was the revealer: EIGHT. So, you did it, Bruce. Now the only question is...


I guess I could say I went through an epiphany of sorts--more of an "Oh, no!" moment than an "Aha!" one--but...lordy, even a natick would be better than this.

But wait! There IS one! T_TI/G_RTHS. I don't know from horse equipment, but GIRTHS seemed reasonably apropos. As for TITI, I have that listed as a plant, not an animal.

Lesson for today: just because a thing CAN be done doesn't mean it SHOULD be done.

Burma Shave 12:19 PM  


HERE on the STREETS Lady GAGA just glitters,
For AGES she’s worn GEAR that befit her.
On a ten scale she’ll RATE EIGHT,


rondo 12:48 PM  

Became suspicious immediately in the NW, same as OFL.

Highlight was GRETA Garbo, yeah baby of her day, to whom, I was once told, I am some sort of very distant relative.

What Rex said.

DMG 2:29 PM  

Hey guys, it's just a puzzle, not the solution to all mankind's problems. As such it was it was a fun solve, with enough challenges (e.g. how to say 7 in Rome?) to require a little thought. Also think it must have been a fun challenge for the creator. As someone who couldn't construct if my life depended on it, I think we ought to give these guys more credit!

P.S. Wonder what happened to Rex's request for a limit of three comments per blogger. It's a long scroll to Syndiland these days!

And when i get here I get 2170 clearly not worth the trip!

leftcoastTAM 4:11 PM  

No comment on the quality of the puzzle. Don't want to take sides; too risky.


rain forest 4:30 PM  

I'm with you, @DMG. It's just a puzzle, one of 365 offered during the year, and had an interesting grid layout with narrow openings from various sections, and a stringent limitation with just the 8 letters.

I admire constructors who set out to present something different and succeed in providing a different type of enjoyment. Naturally, with this sort of "gimmick", the fill will suffer, so it seems fatuous to complain about it.
Liked it
8561 Ugh.

KariSeattle 5:29 PM  

An English professor was strolling the campus when he was stopped by two freshmen. "Where's the library at?", queried one. The professor looked down his nose and responded, "Sir, in the English language, one does not end a sentence in a preposition!"
The boy thought for a moment and
said, "Okay, where's the library at, asshole?". Lol

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