Kilim Kirman / THU 5-21-15 / Blue Moon of 60s 70s baseball / Hill by loch / Art Deco icon / Velvet add-on / Darrin Stephens' co-workers on Bewitched / Dada pioneer Max

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Constructor: Peter A. Collins

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: RAISED THE BAR (52A: Elevated expectations ... or what this puzzle's maker did to five answers in this puzzle?) — initial letter string "BAR" in theme answers is "raised," i.e. placed atop the first three letters of the remaining letters in the answer. "BAR" thus becomes part of the Across answer above the themer:

Theme answers:
  • RELOFMONKEYS (20A: Metaphor for fun)
  • BARK
  • OQUE (16A: Scarlatti's style)
  • BARE
  • RIERREEF (36A: Shoreline protector)
  • BARO
  • TSIMPSON (42A: Perpetual 10-year-old of TV)
  • BIES (64A: Line of Mattel dolls)
Word of the Day: Blue Moon ODOM (30D: Blue Moon of 1960s-'70s baseball) —
Johnny Lee "Blue Moon" Odom (born May 29, 1945) is a former Major League Baseball pitcher who won three consecutive World Series championships with the Oakland Athletics in 1972, 1973 and 1974. [...] Odom had a 3-1 career record in the post-season with a 1.13 ERA and 27 strikeouts. (wikipedia)
• • •

Had one of those fall-asleep-hard nights last night. Out at 9—missed Letterman's finale :( So it's morning solving for me today, like most of the rest of you normals. My initial experience with this puzzle was not good. Comically so. My first two answers were:

That is not what you'd call an auspicious beginning. I literally laughed and thought "well, the theme sure as hell better have something to do with this." Fill in that section actually got worse, or at least the same (ABBR! BRAGH!), before I eventually backed into (BAR)REL OF MONKEYS and saw what was going on. When you raise the "BAR" this way, you put a lot of stress on the grid, and so the bar for fill quality actually dips a bit. Notice that things tend to get dicey in and around the "BAR" sections. Totally understandable. The "BAR" isn't just raised in this grid, it's raised and then shifted over to sit atop the remaining letters in the answer. But I'm not sure how else you'd do this trick. I feel like I've seen this theme concept before (I know I've seen parts of answers dropped and/or lifted before), but as an easy, straightforward example of this theme type, this puzzle seems pretty good (crummy short fill notwithstanding).

I encountered one tough spot: the NE. But that's only because I did *not* expect to see theme material way the hell and gone up there. You expect the long Across (here, EARTH SIGN) to be involved, but no—fake out! It's the two answers above EARTH SIGN that are in on the game. I didn't realize that Air Quality Index (AQI) was the ABBR. I wanted up there and so ended up with A-I / O-UE. After a few seconds, I was like "Oh, right, the BAR thing." I had a little trouble also with the west, which was where I finished. Couldn't get in from the top or bottom of that section, but then (BAR)T SIMPSON came to my rescue and that section fell immediately thereafter.

  • 5D: A place of prominence (THE FORE) — normally not big on "THE ___" answers, and I probably shouldn't like this one, but I do. I had trouble figuring it out. But then I moved the C-section from the ER to the OR, and there it was: THE FORE. I also like MRS. DASH, a "seasoning brand" I haven't seen advertised since the early '90s. I genuinely like it, despite / because of its retro-ness (which may be only in my mind, but that's the only place it needs to be). MRS. DASH starts with four consonants and is 7/8 consonants. Cool. 
  • 51D: Darrin Stephens's co-workers on "Bewitched" (ADMEN) — Love this. Everyone's all "Don Draper this" and "Don Draper that," but what about "Darrin Stephens this" and "Endora that." The puzzle needs more "Bewitched," is what I'm saying.
  • 45D: Business end of a chopper (AXE HEAD) — first, I just like the phrase "business end." Second, I enjoyed figuring out what followed AXE. I could think only of BLADE (not a fit). You could do a whole theme, say, "corporate mergers," where ordinary phrases are clued as if they were a mash-up of two different brands—in this case, a body spray (AXE) / tennis equipment (HEAD) merger.  Etc. I need breakfast.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Facebook and Twitter]


GeezerJackYale48 7:53 AM  

Now this is what I expect on Thursdays! Enjoyable, inventive, fun! Nice job, Peter A. Collins

joho 7:54 AM  

Loved this one, thank you, Peter Collins, for a perfectly executed Thursday trick ... you have RAISEDTHEBAR indeed!

Mini-theme with with the GAELIC person shouting ERIN go BRAGH on the BRAE. Also the BARBIES have their KEN.

AHOY crossing BRINY is fun, too

Great start to the day!

George Any 8:00 AM  

As I was telling my wife Bara over breakfast, I bet @Rex will be King at the @Peter Collins puzzle. Almost twenty years ago, I test solved a puzzle by my friend @Charles Deber called "Bar None" that eventually was published on Sunday, April 20, 1997. Try it, with my warmest recommendation!

Back to today's offering, @Hayley Gold has a delicious take on it over at Her webcomics are always a great Gain, since she does not charge anything to subscribers.

wreck 8:00 AM  

Wasn't there a lot of "BAR's" not included in the theme? I enjoyed doing it and found it pretty easy, but the more I looked at it the less impressed I was.

paulsfo 8:01 AM  

Liked it except that an A____ answer crossing a THE____ answer is really pretty bad. I'm surprised that Rex didn't mind more.

Sir Hillary 8:03 AM  

Neat idea. One nit though: I have only heard the phrase said as "barrel full of monkeys". Is "barrel of monkeys" a common form as well?

Dorothy Biggs 8:06 AM  

This was one of my wonkiest solves ever. It all started with wanting "dead" at 8D (Word with horse or meat). Go with me here...So I put in "dead," then I figured that Thunder (15A) was clap or roll or my "dead" became DA--, and I had already sussed out the "raising" part so I thought that maybe 8D was "DAed" (which is "dead" "raising" upward). Because this made no sense at all, the rest of the grid became ridiculously hard because at that point I didn't know what was going on...were all the answers backward? or just some of them?

I had coincidentally hastily filled in other answers incorrectly (adverb much?) too numerous to mention. So about half way through I was completely stumped until I gave up on the "dead horse/dead meat" answer and with the letters I knew were right (DA--) saw DARK...and from there MONKEYS...and from there BARO/RELOFMONKEYS and from there the puzzle coalesced and most of my errors stood out like sore thumbs.

Wow. I think that about the time I saw DARK was about the time my coffee kicked in. The solve was definitely an "AH" "OY" experience but not in that order.

I liked it. I was kinda surprised that Rex "liked" it though...with ABBR and AQI and the partial "ABEET" to start, I figured he'd skewer it. Huh.

Mohair Sam 8:08 AM  

Agree with 'bout everyone - terrific Thursday puzzle.

@George (Bar)Any - Thanks for the link to Hayley.

@Sir Hillary - Yup, I usually hear BARRELOFMONKEYS without the "full" - so it must be common.

chefbea 8:32 AM  

Any puzzle that starts with a beet has to be great. Got barbies first and the rest was easy. Don't use Mrs dash ...just mix several spices to make my own.

mathguy 8:34 AM  

It seems to me that the BAR isn't raised -- it's lowered. For example. In the NW, the bar is part of BARGE. It has earned its way into the grid as the answer to a clue. It must be lowered (and shifted to the left three spaces) to make sense out of RELOFMONKEYS. In the same way in the NE, the bar is in the grid as part of BARK. It hasn't been raised from anywhere. It isn't part of OQUE. The bar must be lowered to turn OQUE into baroque. And in the SW, if BARBIES had been crammed into 64A rebus-style, the bar isn't raised to become part of BARNSTORM because the bar in BARNSTORM is already there.

Not that this was a problem. The puzzle was easy enough to solve. It didn't take me long to see that some entries were missing a beginning BAR. After I finished, I noticed the bars in the grid.

Even if the theme had been correctly termed "Lowering the bar," it wouldn't have been much fun.

dk 8:44 AM  

🌕🌕 (2 mOOns)

Lack luster solve for this lad. DEBTEE left me cold. Well it was 39 this AM on the MINN border so maybe that was it.

Figured out the reveal and so the trick fill was made easy.


Anonymous 8:51 AM  

Raise - lower. The BAR could be seen as raised up from the rest of the word/phrase it belongs with, or lowered down to it.


RiqueV 8:52 AM  

Rex, no bitching about a pangram? I think you are kinder in the mornings...

Z 8:53 AM  

@mathguy - "what this puzzle's maker did to five answers in this puzzle" is he RAISED THE BAR. The solver has to lower the bar to make sense of the answer, but I think the theme is fine because of how the clue is written.

@wreck - All the BARs in the puzzle are the first part of the theme answer. No extra BARs to be found. One BRA, though, ERIN go BRAGH.

nAnO-meter is a bad place to have an early mistake. Not as bad as Dead meat, but it kept me from seeing the theme for awhile. Other write-over of MIch to MINN (knowing that PAC is a fellow Michigander led me down that path). DNFed in the NE. I thought I had all my BARs done (even with BARK staring me in the face) and decided that Kilim and Kirman were either two ReG's or two RoG's I didn't know. D'OH. After looking up Scarlatti and realizing it was BAROQUE, I still looked at RUG twice before realizing it wasn't a name.

Zeke 9:00 AM  

Didn't enjoy, or admire, this at all - the execution of the theme was too far off. You do something like


and clue BARKEEP as "Retain", then you've raised the bar.

Hartley70 9:05 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hartley70 9:09 AM  

I liked this a lot. I save my kisses for Mr. Rebus, but I'm happy to hang around with this guy til my true love is back in town.

chefbea 9:13 AM  

Haley Gold's take on the puzzle is fantastic!!!!

Loren Muse Smith 9:14 AM  

On a Thursday when I’m rushed, I don’t mind a partial at 1A. In fact, the excellent clue for 1D rescues the abbr, no?

@joho – I agree on the ERIN go BRAGH and KEN and BARBIE!

@RiqueV - was there a “jaw” or “jewel” in the grid I missed somehow?

Loved the clues for LAZIER, AIL, ABBR, and ADMEN. And I agree, Rex – I love the phrase “business end,” too. It’s colorful and can make anything seem menacing:

Come here, Johnny, unless you want to meet the business end of this EGGO.
You better watch it, buddy, or you’ll experience the business end of this bag of OREOS.

Two major stumbles...

First, “boring” for CORING. In fact, that area due west was really, really hard. I didn’t consider the “looks” in “looks inside” to be a noun, so with a four-letter baseball name from a while back, I went straight to “Alou.”

Also – I would never think of the DEBTEE (hi, @dk) as the person giving the LOAN. Seems that guy would be the “debted,” or some such. Isn’t EE added usually to a verb? Someone who is employed is an employee, someone who is nominated is a nominee, someone who is jerked around a yankee? Someone who is coughed on is a coffee? Ok, I’ll stop.

Second – I had “enacts” for EXACTS and never went back to question that. I just figured “anehead” was some kind of helicopter part I didn’t know but everyone else did. Sheesh. Hey, @M&A – loved your Muse stuff yesterday! I thought of you with “anehead” and its runtesque feel. METH, BUT, ARC, GERM, INS, SEAL

SHIFT again in the grid, this time for clothes and not cars. I’m a sheath gal, myself. So, yeah, yeah, I could be accused of being SHIFTless. BOO.

Peter – terrific idea, good fun! I feel like constructors like you are always raising the bar. (Hi again, @joho.)

beet me 9:32 AM  

“The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly, is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious.

Slavic peoples get their physical characteristics from potatoes, their smoldering inquietude from radishes, their seriousness from beets.

The beet is the melancholy vegetable, the one most willing to suffer. You can't squeeze blood out of a turnip...

The beet is the murderer returned to the scene of the crime. The beet is what happens when the cherry finishes with the carrot. The beet is the ancient ancestor of the autumn moon, bearded, buried, all but fossilized; the dark green sails of the grounded moon-boat stitched with veins of primordial plasma; the kite string that once connected the moon to the Earth now a muddy whisker drilling desperately for rubies.

The beet was Rasputin's favorite vegetable. You could see it in his eyes.”

― Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

John Child 9:39 AM  

@beet +++++++++

Name that tune 9:39 AM  

I must have really slept well last night, or had a lot of whiskey in my coffee this morning, or have a crush on Peter Collins, because I was uncharacteristically forgiving of today's puzzle. Today, unlike yesterday, I kept my snark inside.

The thing I've said over and over that I don't like--when answers, like OQUE or BIES--can't stand on their own? I completely ignored it today. And I've seen a theme like this before, and themes like this can lead to some "stress on the grid," but today I'll just mention the "crummy short fill" but act like it's just fine and dandy. Because today, it's all about the theme, even though I hate themes pretty much every day.
Perhaps I should solve puzzles, and do my write-ups, in the morning more often.

Anonymous 9:40 AM  

Last Monday left Rex chastened. Normally he would have ripped this puzzle to pieces. The theme was poorly executed (see math guy's comments) and there was too much junky fill. But Rex was too gun shy to blast the thing because of the groundswell of commenters disagreeing with him on Monday. It appeared to me he halfheartedly praised certain parts of it In order not to appear too negative so he could avoid another Monday like reaction . Usually Rex errs on the overly critical side. Yesterday and today he wasn't critical enough. He needs to find the sweet spot where he shows just enough criticism to to teach us puzzle excellence.

Jimson Weed 9:43 AM  

Those who overdose on anticholinergic drugs become

Blind as a bat, mad as a hatter, red as ABEET, hot as Hades, dry as a bone.

Loren Muse Smith 9:46 AM  

@beet me, @John Child – looks like someone has done met with the business end of a beet.

Hah! I may just have to read Jitterbug Perfume now!

jae 9:47 AM  

Caught the theme at BAR OQUE and it was pretty easy after that.  

Erasures: nanO before BARO and EnACTS before EXACTS

I've almost stopped confusing Kazan and Wiesel. 

Not really a spoiler alert:
And, speaking of AD MEN, didn't Don Draper type "the quick brown fox..." phrase in the series finale? 

Nice to see ODOM clued without a Kardashian. 

Nice twist for Thurs., liked it. 

Leapfinger 9:48 AM  

@mathguy, the BARglass is half empty, the BARglass is half full.

Hey, I meandered the grid without much traction till the midEast and SE. I s'pose it's cheating in a way to get the reveal first, but that sure relieved the gRIEf in the REEF, and helped make it fun to RELO those monkeys. (@Sir H, I imagine even one monkey in a BARREL could amuse the --ous, yes?)

Other likes:
The tie-in that let ERIN go BRAGH-less;
Crossing the GAELIC with the Gallic;
Noticing the REEL BARO seemed to have come apart;
Seeing ELIE MINN, but no ATE;
Having the BARK on the OLDE OQUE tree.

Erroneous starts:
oH mY before AH oy, but what else can you expect with a Land Ho?
AXblade before AXEHEAD; there was something downright Guillotinesque there... Having ye OLDE AX/AXE come between the HEAD and the Blade...
As I saw it, you have to bore your cores, so I made my geophysicist bORING, not CORING. The unexpected benefit there was in thinking briefly that Chas DEbERS had made it into the grid. That would have been a nice shout-out, as I'm sure ANY would agree.

Have to make like MRS DASH now; DEBTEEs, you know...

Fun solve, PACman. ThankSLOTs!

Charles Flaster 9:49 AM  

Another EZ but kudos to P. Collins for making the non-theme parts very palatable. I did wince at DEBTEE like LMS.
One write over was SOLA for ariA.
Caught theme at BAROQUE, without the reveal, and that was my favorite themer.
Liked cluing for DECORS,DEFERS and AHOY.
Rex--don't forger Blade is also a deodorant.
@George Any--glad we have a new commenter. Your humor was well put( up the bar).
I did think clue for 33 Down should have read : Word on SOME campaign posters.
Thanks PAC.

Ludyjynn 9:55 AM  

"Neither a borrower nor a lender be" sounds so much better than DEBTEE to me. Technically correct, but an ugly word, IMO.

One place still on my Bucket List is the Great BARRIERREEF. Has anyone here had the pleasure?

Have been lucky enough to see an opera, "Carmen" at La Scala, whose interior, I believe, is BAROQUE DECOR. Very lush and grand, a perfect setting.

Don't use MRSDASH, but found her early on in the solve. My go to seasoning is Jane's Crazy Mixed Up Salt, which is not always easy to find on grocery shelves these days.

Who knew 'spunk' was from GAELIC?! Don't you just love crosswords? Learn something new every day.

Thanks, PAC and WS. EXACTly what a Thurs. puzz. should be.

Gene Sady 9:55 AM  

Is there any way of knowing ahead of time which puzzles on any given day will have these kinds of tricks with split words? They are way too difficult and frustrating to figure out for a beginner like me. I would much rather know before attempting to spend my time on them. It is impressive to me that you all find these fairly easy!

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

@Gene Sady - Thursdays are notorious trick days, Sundays sometimes. Mon-Wed are usually straight forward and easier, Friday and Saturday are generally trick free but difficult.

wreck 10:11 AM  

.....slinks head in shame. ;-)

Ellen S 10:17 AM  

@Gene Sady, usually it's the Thursdays that have these kinds of tricks. Used to be rebuses (either an image or multiple letters in one square) but we haven't seen one of those in a while. But still, you can expect something like missing letters, misplaced letters, backwards, upside down, inside out, trickery on a Thursday.

@George [Bar]any, is there any place to find that puzzle you recommend? THanks for the Hayley Gold link; she's always fun.

@"Rex Porker" not so much. I'm as not in love with OFL's usual negativity as anyone, but don't need unfunny satire (is there a word for that?) to just make things worse.

I don't register poor fill very strongly. I dont mind abbreviations and partials and exclamations; as you all know, what gets me is the same bad fill repeated puzzle after puzzle. Like those fish which shall go nameless here. This didn't seem to have any of my old "friends", so I liked it. Thanks, Mr. Collins.

Leapfinger 10:20 AM  

I'm with @John Child re @beetme. Thank you.

Tom Robbins really knows how to GOAT a vegetable, with naught but a Pan.

"BEET me, Daddy, eight to the BAR"

jberg 10:23 AM  

Loved it! Got the theme with BAROQUE, but every single theme answer after that took me by surprise, due to the lack of symmetry. BART SIMPSON especially hard to see, partly because I had kilO and then nanO before BAR-O. Que pasa here, I was thinking, until I finally realized that CORING was more geophysical than COnING.

Remember, folks, neither a debtor nor a DEBTEE be, for debted oft loses both itself and friend.

Z 10:25 AM  

I don't know how anyone else does it, but when I'm doing a little weightlifting I generally RAISE THE BAR over my head.

@Ellen S - "The fish that shall go nameless here." Love it. I plan to use it the next time the fish that shall go nameless here appears.

duaneu 10:26 AM  

@RisqueV, it's not a panagram. There's no J or W.

grammar nazi 10:33 AM  

@Anon 10:06: "Straightforward." It's one word. I suppose one could walk "straight forward, " but as a synonym for "uncomplicated," "straightforward" will do just fine.

Anon 10:06 10:37 AM  

@grammar nazi. Please die.

Mike D. 10:38 AM  

I happen to think Porker nails Parker pretty well. Skip him if you don't like him (her?), but I say keep 'em coming, Porker.

Nancy 10:42 AM  

Loved it, too. My kinda puzzle. Didn't quite see the trick at 16A, where I had O-UE (though I should have.) Instead I saw it at 20A, where REL OF MONKEYS came in. Went to the revealer, looking for a "BAR" theme, and found it. From then on, smooth sailing and no junk fill. Only one nit: I agree with @lms that DEBTEE for someone who makes the loan, rather than incurs the loan, seems wrong. I suppose if I were to Google it, it would prove to be correct, but I'm not gonna bother. Anyway, delightful puzzle.

Masked and AnonymoUs 10:43 AM  

Well, first off, U can tell M&A is not secretly the author of this puz. Top reasons...

* Only one U. We have been havin a horrendous U-drought, lately. Surprised @63 has not raised alarums.
* Revealer woulda been "FELLUNDERTHEBAR" or somesuch.
* BARO would definitely be awarded the coveted double-?? clue, in honor of its desperation.

Anyhoo, real fun puz. Got the themer idea right away, off yer MONKEY BARREL, altho first take was "fell under the bar while pawin at the BRA".
thUmbaloft. (new measured thUmbsUp, when puz is u-anemic).


**gruntz: write yer own clues!**

Bob Kerfuffle 10:44 AM  

Mighty fine puzzle! (We'll save "excellent" on Thursday for a rebus.)

You know you've done too many puzzles when: At 16 A, I got the OQUE and tried to figure out what was going on. First thought was that the clue "Scarlatti's style" pointed to something like "-ish" or "-ial" or "-like". Second thought was, Oh, those two black squares coming down from the edge of the grid could constitute a Bar! On third thought, I saw the BAR sitting there in 10 A, and I was off to an easy solve!

My Always-Get-That-Wrong write-over: 37 D, REVA before REZA.

At 51 D, I got my witch confused with my Jeannie and thought the husband was an astronaut, but that was too far off to make a wrong entry.

Back in the dark ages when I was employed, I often said that "Raise the Bar!" was the cheer of my company's Limbo Dance Team.

Louis Black 10:45 AM  

Mike D, I didn't like this puzzle as much as Rex did and didn't agree with everything he wrote, but today shows why no one should take Rex Porker's comments seriously. When Rex Parker says that he didn't enjoy a puzzle, Porker trashes him for being too negative. When Rex Parker says that he enjoyed another puzzle, Porker still trashes him for not being negative enough. The only reason Porker shows up every day is just to show how much of a grudge he has against his blog host.

Unknown 10:51 AM  

"Everyone's all 'Don Draper this' and 'Don Draper that,' but what about 'Darrin Stephens this' and 'Endora that.' The puzzle needs more 'Bewitched,' is what I'm saying."

Who are you, and what have you done with Rex Parker?

Mike D. 10:59 AM  

@Louis Black: You are clearly not reading what Porker writes. He is definitely NOT criticizing Parker for not being negative enough. He is criticizing Parker for being completely inconsistent. Things that make him furious one day please him the next. Of course, it's his blog and he can write what he wants, but it seems fair for his critics to, um, criticize.
Comments on a blog post tend to comment on a blog post.

Nancy 11:00 AM  

@Ellen S. and @Z -- Please don't think I haven't been paying attention, because I have, but what, pray tell is "the fish that shall go nameless here"?? Is it the DACE, of very recent memory? (Recent, yes, but I don't remember ever seeing it before.) Could it be @Ludyjynn's favorite fish: the KOI? Perhaps the oft-used SHAD or BASS? Please don't leave me in the dark; the suspense is killing me!

Only for Nancy 11:07 AM  

I know how you fEEL. We must pEEL back this mystery. I will knEEL at the feet of one who can revEEL it and get me back on an even kEEL. If it doesn't happen before noon I may miss a mEEL. It will cEEL my fate and stamp it with a sEEL. I would hate for it to kEEL you, too.

WEEL, that's all I have time for now. Maybe someone else can help you dEEL with it!

Nancy 11:10 AM  

@Only for Nancy -- Hysterical! And revEEL the answer it did. Thank you, whoever you are.

old timer 11:13 AM  

No longer a 'Merican in Paris (sniff!) I'm a 'Merican at home suffering from jet lag. So I found the puzzle difficult and slow to complete.

The one word I think could be criticized is DEBTEE. Not a word anyone uses anymore. We lawyers refer to "debtor" and "creditor" and have learned to avoid those OR - EE constructions which no one understands, including us, most of the time. But DEBTEE is a rational construction, and maybe used to be used. "Debt" comes from the Law French "debte" or "dette" which is current french. "Debte" comes from the Latin "debere" which means "to owe", so one who owes is a debtor and therefore the person to whom something is owed is a debtee. The person performing the act described by the verb is "or", the one receiving or on whom the act is performed is "ee". I'll resist the urge to be bawdy and just refer you to two words that are used today: donee and donor". The root verb is French "donner" or "to give", the person who gives is "donor" and therefore the person to whom something is given is "donee".

I think Rex's review was perfectly fair. Things he does not like become acceptable on a Thursday, the traditional day for trick puzzles and rebuses. I have seen this raising-the-bar trick before. The fill is not always elegant, but judged by its own Thursdayish standard, about as good as was possible to achieve with *five* theme answers (I totally missed seeing BAR BIES myself and figured "BIES" is a new line for Mattel.

jae 11:19 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 11:24 AM  

I don't have much to say about this puzzle -- it was fine enough, though I didn't appreciate what it did to the fill. But put me down as a big Rex Porker fan, please! He's one of the main reasons I read the comments here, though I was a bit disappointed today that he let OFL get away with his Darren Stephens praise unscathed. Week in, week out, it's tiresome complaints about how a particular grid is "old-fashioned" or "has its center of gravity sixty years ago," and today suddenly it's "hooray for references to fifty-year-old sitcoms over current shows!"

Arlene 11:26 AM  

No Googling on a Thursday - all wordplay. My kind of puzzle!
Last to fall was BAROQUE - before that I was having Scarlatti write ADUE (my guess at duets in Italian.)
But the AQI moment finally arrived, and it was BAROQUE so I fixed it.

Joseph Michael 11:35 AM  

Blew it at DECORS crossing CORING because I got stuck at DEBARS crossing BORING and didn't have ODOM to come to my rescue.

Aside from that, I really enjoyed this puzzle: the theme, the cluing, and most of the fill.

Also enjoyed Rex's comments for a change. As others have suggested, he might do well to write in the morning instead of at night after a couple of glasses of wine.

Liked the Irish subtheme and the pairing of BART SIMPSON and a BARREL OF MONKEYS. All in all, a great Thursday.

Louis Black 11:40 AM  

Mike D, you mean Rex Parker has different reactions based on different puzzles? What a surprise. No one is 100% consistent all of the time. That's called being human. If he said he loved a puzzle, Rex Porker would just write something trashing him for being biased in the constructor's favor, or that he's ignoring a couple answers that weren't good. Porker did both of those things, by the way. Rex Parker didn't ignore those bad answers, but Porker ripped him for it anyway, and then implied he only liked the puzzle because he must be friends with Peter Collins.

People should feel free to disagree with Rex Parker's posts if they want. But Porker is just carrying out a petty, personal vendetta.

Mike D. 11:51 AM  

@Louis Black: Methinks thou dost protest to much.

chefbea 11:53 AM  

At least I didn't go on and on and on about beets!!

Ludyjynn 11:53 AM  

@Nancy, Thanks for the shout-out. If I ever get to the Great BARRIERREEF, I hope to see 'the fish that shall remain nameless', as well as the others you mentioned today. Have only had one encounter thus far in my underwater adventures w/ a beautiful green moray ___ a few years ago in Bermuda, which minded its own business and left me happily unscathed.

George Barany 11:57 AM  

To @Ellen S and anyone else who is interested in the @Charles Deber "Bar None" puzzle that I cited earlier, please contact me off-Rex. My e-mail address at the University of Minnesota is easily found by clicking on my link. Specify whether you want puz file or pdf suitable for printing.

BTW, many entertaining comments today, too many for individual shout-outs. Thanks!

Two more quick comments to @Peter Collins. (1) I've put my share of OREOS into my crossword puzzles, but never before into my ice cream. (2) Seeing HI in the clue for the 4-letter 1-down starting with A, I quickly thought hydroiodic ACID, and was about to play "gotcha" with respect to OH (forgot the minus sign) being a BASE. Mercifully for all parties, figuring out ABBR cleared up everything.

Finally, I am by no means the only New York Times published constructor whose last name begins with BAR. Hello to my U of M colleague and friend @Victor Barocas, and to ACPT finalist and friend @Howard Barkin. Also, @Charles Barasch, @Tom Baring, @Roger Barkan, and @Michael Barnhart. Hope we can all continue to raise the BAR for our favorite crossword venue.

Z 12:03 PM  

@Louis Black - You're wasting your breath. BTW - Rex used to be very hard on PAC's puzzles, not so much anymore. I don't always agree with OFL, but would agree that PAC's puzzles are demonstrably better than they used to be.

@Only for Nancy - I knEEL to your unagi revEEL, wEEL done.

RooMonster 12:04 PM  

Hey All !
Ashamed to admit this, but, didn't "see" the BARs on top of the themers, and parsed the Revealer clue as "Razing the BAR", as in, cutting off BAR completely. Doh! When I came here and saw that, now I feel like a moron! More truth be told, I DNFed in the middle W, as left it blank, wanting DEBTEr and not knowing PARAS (had PA?AS). So 49A was rDGE?. Sheesh! (Hi @Loren!)

So now that I know what the hey is going on, I like this puz more than originally! My writeover was BaSSo-> BOSSA, I think I'll always have that wrong!

I see both myself and Mr. Bob K made it into the clues! Neat!

No BOO for this puz. I'm of the mind that the revealer is correct. The BAR is raised above the theme answers, irrelevant that it's part of another answer. Sorry, @mathguy.

Cool looking grid design also. And ditto on the non-pangram-ness, no J or W. Just alot of scrabbly looking areas.


Hartley70 12:15 PM  

@Nancy, I know it's not rEEL, but somehow I fEEL that an EEL is rEELy a snake!!!

wreck 12:16 PM  

I feel your pain. I whipped through the puzzle pretty quickly last night before the Letterman finale. I guess I really didn't peruse the puzzle very closely at all and proceeded to criticize it this morning unfairly. I should have had my coffee first and re-reviewed the puzzle!

Nancy 12:23 PM  

@Hartley70 -- I was ashamed to admit it in front of so many erudite people, but your comment just now is also my explanation of my EEL clue blind spot. I, too, always think of it as a snake and, much as I may love sushi, EEL has absolutely no appeal to me as an edible fish. Neither as a fish that CAN be named, nor as a fish that MUST NOT be named.

mac 12:28 PM  

I loved this solve, what a fun Thursday!

Write-overs at dead meat and enacts, otherwise smooth sailing. I knew @Bob Kerfuffle was going to like this one, he was even mentioned in it.

Lynn 12:46 PM  

@anon 10:33 If “straightforward” is considered one word nowadays, it’s a recent change that would, of course, have been resisted by the “grammar wet-blankets”, who don’t especially like the language as an evolving thing. They’d be happier if it could be dead or calcified, and if its use would never be allowed to be so damn free & easy.

John V 12:49 PM  

No time to read all comments, but just to say: neat theme, DNF bec of West:DEBTEE is simply made up; setting it in the vicinity of CORING just doesn't cut it. And, having never watched The Simpsons (true) could not parse BART SIMPSON, having no idea that he is/was ten years old. Rest of puz worked just fine. Oh, wait: MRS DASH did not come; knew it had to be MRS someone, but that's as far as I got (had AH HA at 47a). Okay, not not a great experience for me. Need to have the bar lowered this morning.

Loren Muse Smith 12:52 PM  

@Lynn – Methinks thou dost make a very, very, very good point.

Anonymous 1:04 PM  

Nothing like taking pride in one's ignorance. "Straightforward," in the context used, is one word. There is no "if." If we can just use words as we want to, willy-nilly, then DEBTEE is a perfectly great word, and anyone who disagrees must think language is "dead and calcified." You can't have it both ways.

EeyOre 1:14 PM  


Is The Bar River anywhere near The Dish River? ... um, no, sorry, I think that's The Plate River...or the very EELy Snake River?

I enjoy checking out your daily avatar changes -- very quotidian -- but have to oppose how you see the Debtee. The Debtor is the one who owes, and since the -ee and the -or are opposites, the debtee is just the one who makes the ower owe.

Shake on it?

Anonymous 1:23 PM  

@Anon 1:04 You might want to learn to read before you claim others are "taking pride in one's own ignorance". Lynn wasn't questioning that straightforward was one word, she was merely stating it was only relatively recently one word.

Alicia Stetson 1:27 PM  

This is a crossword blog. Almost by definition, it consists at least partially of people who nitpick over words. There are a dozen posts every day criticizing the use of one word or another. So why certain people would choose to criticize the nazi for doing exactly what they themselves are doing, unless it is the usual circle jerk that makes up the "insiders" on this blog, is beyond me.

Anonymous 1:37 PM  

Anon @ 1:23, you're not very good at reading comprehension, are you?

RnRGhost57 1:47 PM  

@Alicia Stetson, genuine LOL

Zeke 2:50 PM  

@Anons 1:38 & 1:04 Consider the following exchange

Star-struck Zeke Admirer: "Oh Zeke, you're so humble and polite"

Zeke: "If I am humble and polite, it is only because of my parents"

I can assure you, Zeke here is in no way denying or questioning that he is humble and polite, just as there was no way that Lynn was questioning that straightforward is in fact one word.

You're both, simply and factually, wrong.

Anonymous 3:16 PM  

Surprised that no one mentioned that beyond the coordinated daily one-answer overlap between the NYT and LAT not only had the same constructor, but a very similar theme...

Mia Fedora 3:19 PM  

@Ms Stetson, very clever. I couldn't tell for sure that this was a circle.

My hat's off to you.

Anonymous 3:30 PM  

I want to echo Alicia Stetson: Critics criticize, and it’s critical that critics criticise, but the critic criticising critic — who is criticizing! -- that is beyond me as well. In fact I’m totally buffaloed, if that’s the right word, if you know what I mean

Anonymous 3:38 PM  

Thanks for keeping them honest, Alicia!

Zeke 3:39 PM  

And I am, simply and factually, not humble.

Anonymous 3:51 PM  

So when Lynn mentioned "’s a recent change that would, of course, have been resisted by the “grammar wet-blankets”, who don’t especially like the language as an evolving thing," she was in no way criticizing those who point out incorrect usage? She was merely stating a fact about the evolution of words? I think Zeke may be a few sandwiches short of a picnic.

Anonymous 3:52 PM  

According to my dictionary 'debtee' is a legit (legal) word even if spell check has a problem with it.

Anonymous 4:02 PM  

Heh. Don't worry, @Zeke, nobody on this board has have confused you with someone who is humble.

Zeke 4:09 PM  

@Faux Zeke - Congrats dude, you got the joke. Cherish it, the first time's always the best!

Carola 4:18 PM  

Late to the party, as I'm traveling in merrie OLDE England. A challenging puzzle for me: I needed the reveal to help me place the remaining BARs, with BART SIMPSON being the last, as I always thought he must be around 12 (I haven't seen the show). Loved the verve and DASH of the puzzle.

Anonymous 4:59 PM  

Fake out might be the simpler narrative, but maybe u shouldn't be too self-critical.

Ex. HELP was not found anywhere in yesterday's puzzle, even if someone represented that it was. Which is why you might say, it was found here, and only here, the day after, instead.

The only way fake out may be relevant is for the dear readers. Ex. It would be wrong to place someone at the scene of a 'crime' if they weren't there. It would be wrong to say that reading the headlines on a conspiracy page means you believe everything in its contents.

Anonymous 5:11 PM  

@Anon 4:59 ???????????????

Reading Gaol 5:37 PM  

'Zeke: "If I am humble and polite, it is only because of my parents"

I can assure you, Zeke here is in no way denying or questioning that he is humble and polite....'

I'm not sure whether that was Friend-Zeke or Faux-Zeke posting at 2:50, but I am of the firm opinion that beginning his sentence with If indicates that he is, in fact, in some way 'denying or questioning that he is humble and polite. In order for there to be no question of Zeke's doubting his own humility, he would have had to state: That I am humble and polite is due [entirely to my parents].

We covered this in Reading Comprehension 101.

R.G. 5:40 PM  

Sorry 'bout that; I meant to sign out 'Reading Gail'.

Old habits die hard, as the Mother Superior was wont to say.

Jon 5:42 PM  

"Raised the bar" was way too easy since I started there and sussed the theme from the start. But I did feel like an ANEHEAD with my DEAD horse/meat. Cute puzzle.
Best, Jon

Anonymous 6:03 PM  

Is everyone on this board drunk by 3pm? Things seem to have deteriorated rapidly.

Reading Comprehension 102 6:06 PM  

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary


1. In case that; granting, allowing, or supposing that; -- introducing a condition or supposition.

So, using the "granting" or "allowing" definition

Granting (=if) that "straightforward" is a word...

Granting (=if) I am humble and polite...

Exactly where does one get the idea that "if" necessarily questions the legitimacy of the subsequent assertion?

Isaac Newton 6:20 PM  

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.

Zeke 6:23 PM  

If I have seen shoulders it is by standing on the fur of giants.

Zeke 6:35 PM  

I seem to have Asperger's.

Zeke 7:00 PM  

So, a troll has figured out how to sign things "Zeke" (3:39, 6:23, 6:35). I wish to thank him (or her, but I'm guessing not) as from now on, anything posted by Zeke has to be assessed as follows:

a) If it's wise, witty, or otherwise worthy, it's by the real Zeke, or
b) If it's inane, childish, or rude it's by the Faux Zeke.

I am thus absolved of any future wrong-doing or missteps, and am free to do as I wish.

Zeke 7:08 PM  

Nice try, @fake Zeke. Double reverse psychology. But you will never be as clever as I am.

Teedmn 7:58 PM  

I felt "a fish that shall Go nameless" coming on at 46A but it was not E'EN close.

@Ludyjynn, we usually use Jane's Crazy Mixed Up Pepper rather than the salt but I agree that it is sometimes hard to find.

I always have to run the or/ee question in my head when faced with the 'EE' ending nouns: "Okay, I know what a payer is so a payee is on the receiving end" is the way that conversation with myself goes. I guess that's the connection between all of them that I can think of right now - donee, payee, debtee and nominee are all receiving something.

Thanks, PAC, for a Thursday change up (though I'll go for a rebus any time)

Unknown 8:07 PM  

My math may be a little rusty, but isn't MrsDash 6/7 consonants rather than 7/8? Unless a period counts as a consonant in Mrs.Dash

GILL I. 8:15 PM  

I'm late...Nobody cares...
Everything including snark, snide and spiteful has already been said. But I also found some delightful, dandy and dramaturgic comments.
@Roo actually said what I thought about the puzzle....Even when I figured out the theme, It didn't make me want to dance a fandango....

Zeke 8:28 PM  

Wait-- Mrs. Dash had her period?!

chefbea 8:28 PM  

What is going on???? all of the latest comments BEET me?????

Anonymous 8:39 PM  

Good one @ Zeke. Poor Mrs. Dash. I guess she always has her period.

Dr Doctor 9:29 PM  

@Zeke, time for both of you to go back on your meds.

Leapfinger 11:15 PM  

@Gill, I've been taking roll call and I know who's late and who's missing.

Now tell me more about the dramaturgid.

kitshef 11:31 PM  

Finished this before last Thursday's, which I had to go back to repeatedly to get through a couple of stubborn areas, esp. the west. Now I have to go back and read the comments on that one to understand the whole Buffalo buffalo thing.

Aketi 11:43 PM  

@ Bob KERFUFFLE congratulations for being in the puzzle. It seems that KERFUFFLES were bountifull as well.

@ Dr Doctor, I spologize. My cat Charlie injured his tail yesterday when it got caught under the door. The vet put him on pain meds. I think that in his drugged state he may have hacked my iPad while I was at work and tried to impersonate Zeke today

While most everyone else managed to leap lightly OVER the RAISEd BARs I resorted to doing the limbo under the BARs, by resorting to the biggest cheat of all. I lcs fess that I looked up Rex's solve to see what the trick was. I got no further than the dyslexic trauma of encountering two BRAs crossings BAR before my confidence ERODED. I felt like little I had learned about solving puzzles were completely ERASED from my head. I was tired and I admit to being far LAZIER than usual

@ Nancy, even trying to use you as my role model couldn't salvsge me today. Perhaps an EEL might have guided me up from the abyss I fell into today..

I did get BARRIER REEF which is on my bucket list of places to scuba dive.

Aketi 11:51 PM  

Oops, meant to write, KERFUFFLES in the comments section as well. Clearly, my brain has failed me today.

Dr Doctor 9:08 AM  

My condolences for Charlie's tail of woe.

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rondo 8:23 AM  

@ rain forest - My brothers names are Rich and Randy (true), and neither is either, so I try to compensate, so I am more of both than both of them together (also true). Randy and rich, that is, randy for sure, rich, not what you'd call it so much, but moreso than my worthless brothers.

As for the puz, as Mr. Horse would say, "No sir, don't like it."

Burma Shave 8:46 AM  


MRSDASH and I were an ITEM, BARE on the floor,
that OLDE woman would BARK, and then she would ROAR.
I didn’t miss ABEET on the RUG with that whore,
we RAISEDTHEBAR for our REPS, and came to THEFORE.


Burma Shave 8:46 AM  


MRSDASH and I were an ITEM, BARE on the floor,
that OLDE woman would BARK, and then she would ROAR.
I didn’t miss ABEET on the RUG with that whore,
we RAISEDTHEBAR for our REPS, and came to THEFORE.


rondo 8:54 AM  

BTW - had Dead for DARK at first, it works doesn't it?

Nice shout out to my home state MINN.

Still don't like the puz arramgement.

rain forest 12:50 PM  

@Rondo - I have a cousin named Randy, and he is definitely not, nor has ever been, randy. Or rich. As for myself, I am rich in spirit and in my love of fellow (wo)man, but probably not at your level.

I too had the write-over, Dead->DARK, but after that things were pretty smooth. Clever raised BARs, I thought. I still use MRS DASH on the barbecue as well as Montreal Steak Spice, even on chicken.

The whole -er/-or and -ee thing simply highlights how confused the language is. It's certainly not straightforward, but I think the use of DEBTEE in this puzzle is correct, strictly speaking, and kind of funny.

Pretty good Thursday puzzle. Like it.

spacecraft 1:12 PM  

I did this one, but had considerably LESS fun than a BARRELOF...well, you know. At first I thought the "BAR" angle had to do with all those long rows (or columns) of black squares, not with the actual word BAR appearing in the grid. A lot of nonsense ensues, and the payoff, for me, just wasn't there. It seems to me this whole thing was an excuse to do a pangram. I'm as surprised as several others here that OFL didn't come down harder on this. One of these two things (if not both) seems certain:

1. He has a "thing" for Mr. Collins.
2. He is much more mellow in the morning.

In any event, today's commentary is historically inconsistent: there's no arguing that. For me, the fill is too awkward (BBS, EEN, AQI, etc.) and there's too little reward. This is the first non-Sunday puzzle that felt like a slog to me. The high point was BOO! C-.

eastsacgirl 2:20 PM  

Would have loved to seen:


DMG 4:38 PM  

I took the revealer to mean the BAR had been raised off the page, but the answers worked just as well. Messed up by thinking the EPA had an AP(ollution)I which left Scarletti with an OpUE style. What can I say? Had pains with the Shah who I always think of as RaZA, but ELLE helped there, and wanted the 10 year old to be Opie, but had no idea of his last name, so waited, and Lo and Behold, it was someone else!

Find I skip more of the comment section lately as it seems to have become a "Got Ya!" contest. Just skip through looking for favorites as I head for the positive atmosphere of Syndiland!

Now to,see what the Robotmaster is doing today!

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