Schmooze / TUE 7-28-15 / Berliner's exclamation / Mork's planet / Hand ball?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Constructor: Caleb Emmons

Relative difficulty: EASY

THEME: Secret theme! A-E-I-O-U—each row includes only one vowel, in that order: rows 1, 6, and 11 contain only A, rows 2, 7, and 12 contain only E, and so on.

Word of the Day:  "Poltroon" (20A: "Utter coward") —

"An utter coward" (Google) [ಠ_ಠ -Ed.]

"A spiritless coward: craven" (Merriam Webster)

• • •

Hello, I'm Adrianne Jeffries, live from New York. I'm sorry I'm not Rex! I'd be disappointed if I were you, too.

Speaking of disappointment, boy what a not-fun puzzle this was for me! The A-E-I-O-U ploy is super clever, but 1) it doesn't present itself until the end of the downs, and 2) at what cost?

The puzzle starts off Tuesday-ily enough, as we CHAT and AT BAT and TBA, all normal normal, until we hit POLTROON, which, if anyone organically got this answer, I'll eat my hat.

But okay, while recovering from POLTROON, we hit a run of mediocrity with SISS ("to make a hissing sound"), FRAS (this will be good for Scrabble), and SSTS ("supersonic transport), plus ELL and RRR and ICI. We have the "Peter, Paul & Mary" clue, which we also had yesterday, except today they're a TRIO.

RUFUS as in Wainright felt like the freshest clue in the puzzle:

Speaking of freshness, FRESHETS is a word I learned ("a great rise or overflowing of a stream caused by heavy rains or melted snow," says Merriam Webster).

I don't think I need to say which answer felt the mustiest:

Oh look, it's making a comeback! Source: Google's Ngram Viewer, which searches for phrases in books.

I'm scanning the puzzle for answers I liked and keep spotting more duds, like TKT. I did like THE CREEPS and SNOOT, because they are words for humans.

The thing with the rows and the vowels was really nifty. My crossword partner and I basically gasped when we realized what that clue was saying. For that kind of acrobatics, Caleb, I'll forgive you PHILIP III, OOO, and AAA MAP. The rest of the fill here looks ham-handed, though—especially when compared to the deftness of the theme trick.


Adrianne Jeffries, just some blogger, basically (special thanks Sam Thonis)


Anonymous 12:59 AM  

"poltroon" ... in. Tuesday puzzle! Nuff said.

Well, not quite enough.


MDMA 1:00 AM  


Per, FRAS is not a Scrabble word.

Nor, for that matter, are SISS and BLING. Only the latter is surprising.

SISS was last used in an NYT crossword in 2006. I never heard of it, but POLTROON was familiar.

Given the constraints, not a bad effort by the constructor.

Steve J 1:03 AM  

Not thrilled with this one. Neat construction tricks often do not make for good solves. And so today.

Some of the theme answers seemed a bit of a stretch or even cheaty, especially PHILIP III.

And SISS really should have been fixed. I'm not a constructor, and even I can see quickly that changing GROSS to GHOSTS would have fixed that by giving us SITS instead.

Anonymous 1:07 AM  

But isn't it a terrible thing when the theme trumps the puzzle itself? It's like bad metafiction or a concept movie; the conceit works but the core of the finished product is forced and hollow. The Times puzzle is quickly forgetting its primary audience: people who while away the odd few minutes doing xwords. This is a clever — but ultimately terrible — puzzle.

JTHurst 1:14 AM  

I was a first 'looey' in Nam and used the word poltroon frequently because no one understood it and I had a better chance of not being fragged when i used it.

At first I thought the puzzle was terrible with 'ooo' and 'aaa' and 'ccc' and 'iii', but 'no no' as I solved more and more of the puzzle my respect for Caleb 'grew and grew'. I thought this must be a hellacious puzzle to construct.

So I forgave him the 'gnus' and 'ells' and 'fras' and accepted it as a fun puzzle and respected his craft.

Bye the Bye, I DNFed because I did not spell CSI right. I had CIS, anyway 'ssss' seems a better answer than 'siss' but 'pist' stunk as a verbal nudge.

Aren't freshets those little toilette moisturizers you buy?

Music man 1:20 AM  

Yeah I'm in agreement with everyone so far. I like the idea of this theme but I did not like the puzzle. I didn't find it easy either. It's weird, I can get th-sat, but Tuesday and Wednesday, when the true crosswordese gets the spotlight, get me, I'm lost.

jae 1:22 AM  

Medium for me.  Never would have seen the theme without the reveal.  Very clever but I hear you @Adrianne and @Steve J.  That said I'm going with MDMA's  (Molly really?) take. An above average Tues.  Liked it.

Steve J 1:44 AM  

I meant GHOST, not the plural, in my post above.

Moly Shu 1:51 AM  

@AJeffries, thanks for filling in. I agree with your take on the puzzle. I also think your being kind, just imagine what OFL would have done to this puzzle. Bursting blood vessels would be the least of it I'm afraid. Anyway, except for KLUTZ, didn't like.

chefwen 2:25 AM  

The P in POLTROON was my last letter in as I wasn't too sure of CCCP either. I'd like to fit POLTROON into my vocabulary, thinking back I do not know any utter cowards, maybe myself, but I ain't gonna admit it. I like a little trickery in Tuesdays and other than the reveal (as already stated) this didn't cut it.

A plethora of double O's. That'll make someone happy.

aging soprano 3:46 AM  

A brief tribute to last Thursday's puzzle. Just received this link from someone.

Enjoy, or not.

Anonymous 4:29 AM  

For goodness sake people... how about some credit where credit's due? This is a sensational piece of crossword construction. Yes, it requires a couple of dodgy crossword-ese entries (though Poltroon is not one of them) but so does almost every single US-style fully checked grid. And actually, even given the huge constraint the constructor had to be bound by, this puzzle doesn't have THAT many bad entries at all.

For me, it is rare that a theme is genuinely impressive, especially in a Tuesday puzzle, but I was certainly impressed with this.

Danp 5:28 AM  

Wikipedia quotes Philip III as being "an undistinguished and insignificant man." But he did have 5 I's, so there's that.

Anonymous 7:03 AM  

Maybe @Nancy will chime in today and accuse Peter, Paul, and Mary of being "Green Paintish." One can only hope.

Anonymous 7:09 AM  

There seem to be a few POC's and their kin around here: SHIPS, STEMS, PACS, GRASPS, SSTS, SWIMS, GRUNTS, FRAS, FRESHETS, PITHS, GNUS.

Anonymous 7:10 AM  

I'm getting a little tired of all the bad GNUS in these puzzles.

Haiku Nerd 7:23 AM  


Glimmerglass 7:40 AM  

Lighten up, posters! Anonymous 4:29 has it right. It's Tuesday, and this is an easy puzzle. The constraints are enormous in a puzzle where every word is part of the theme. Give the constructor some credit, for heaven's sake. POLTROON is a pefectly good wordu, unless one doesn't read much, with fair crosses. CCCP was very familiar to me, from international sports more than from rocketry. The only word I thought questionable was SISS, which is a sound, not a word, but the constructor was married to CREEPS. It's not hard to forgive a little glitch in an impressive construction.

joho 7:45 AM  

Normally if you see AEIOU as an answer you might get THE crosswordese CREEPS but not today ... what a great and surprising reveal! I was delighted by Caleb's feat. He turned the old AEIOU into an exciting new concept. For me today the super innovative theme was CRISP and TIGHTKNIT and trumped the somewhat compromised fill (which actually didn't bother me at all.)

Aketi 7:46 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
amateur psychologist 7:46 AM  

@Glimmerglass--so is this puzzle the result of the PTSD the constructor had because he "was married to creeps?"

Aketi 7:48 AM  

@JTHurst, I guess Adrianne is going to have to eat her hat. As I fell asleep last night giving when up I got POLTROON from the downs I thought someone here would know that word and that someone was you.

This am I forgot the theme entirely, even though I had filled in AEIOU last night. Instead I noticed all the triples AAA, CCC, III, OOO, RRR and then discovered a hidden triple of diagonal S's on the ends of the words in the middle. I was sure there was a quadruple diagonal at the beginnings of the words too, but CREEPS blew that delusion. Nevertheless, it was appropriately in close proximity to GROSS.

@M&A, I was sad to see the lowly U count of 8 with no row having more than 3, compared to the 16 O's with the record row having 7 O's crammed in.

Loren Muse Smith 7:52 AM  

First, I have to point out that this puzzle has no Y. Y's can be a dangerous thing if you're playing this kind of game and if you're just being stupid. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. (See my claim yesterday "Lady Gaga" has only one vowel. And that was after I deleted "Meryl Streep." Oh, and by the way, the other semordnilap phrase yesterday was pupils slip up).

I had a very different reaction to this puzzle. For me, the aha moment crept over me, getting bigger and bigger until I, too, gasped. I. Loved. This. Granted, we all take our pleasure in solving from different places, and for me any kind of language manipulation that pushes some kind of envelope – the envelope pushier the better – well, this is why I love crosswords.

The part of me that had me constantly bothering my German professor with ridiculous sentences ending in a verb pile-up (…hatte sprechen können dürfen sollen.), the part of me that pictures phrases like "area aardvark," "free email," "Hawaii ices over," "igloo owner," and "muu muu use," the part of me that loved that puzzle a while back by Julian Lim that had phrases with five vowels in a row – that part of me was wowed by this theme.

@JTHurst - I revisisted CSI/SISS to see if it was in fact "ssss."

@Steve J – excellent point about changing GROSS to "ghost."

I have a fan in the kitchen that doesn't HUM unless I gingerly position it for a while. Otherwise its noise is thwackity thwackity thwackity. And don't get me started on our ceiling fan noises.

I'll take learning two new words, POLTROON and FRESHETS to get this puzzle. Given what had to be enormous constraints, Caleb still managed THE CREEPS, TIGHTKNIT, TEST BAN, and SHOT HOOPS. And, he managed the oh-so-cool reveal, AEIOU. Again, I loved this puzzle. Now I'll be imagining crazy sentences like

Pat Sajak's jackass beekeeper twin brings it in big Foggy Bottom dorm room drug bust dust up.

I'm with @joho and @Glimmerglass, and I'll remember this one for a long time!

Tita 7:55 AM  

I thought this was clever and fun. I must admit, though, to not realizing just how awesome during the solve...
I was so intent on finishing the puzzle before my battery died that I thought the isovowel thing was happening only in the longer a crosses...

The constraints didn't diminish the solve for me. Any puzzle with FRESHETS has gotta be good, no? A fun word to say, and nearly onomatopoeiacal.
Oh...and puzspouse' snake is in the grid today.

@malsdemare - did you also have an ancestor named POLTROON? Your comment yesterday caused much coffee to wind up on my tablet....

Thank you Mr. Emmons. (Didn't someone give him a shoutout just yesterday?

sometimes why 8:03 AM  

Am adamant that was a blast. We needed the three letter stets help. Pitch in, I didn't mind. Look for both of two bozos who cost months. Butt plugs must usurp fun.

chefbea 8:08 AM  

I thought it was tough for a Tuesday. Got the theme, which I liked, but too many words I never heard of - poltroon, freshets, and why is 144- gross?

Of course I love stew

r.alphbunker 8:09 AM  

Arguably every letter in the grid was in a theme word (looking at the rows) and every letter in the grid was not in a theme word (looking at the columns). That's pretty good.

I added a couple of new categories to the puzzle report and will soon add the ability to roll your own category.

Tita 8:17 AM  

aargh!!! *NAME*!! His NAME is in the grid today...though maybe his snake is too, which is why that SISS hiss is going on... Man am I a KLUTZ with autocorrect!

Fun thing I learned from his puzzle...poltrona, which is Portuguese/Italian/Spanish for an overstuffed armchair, also means an indolent woman. So how did we get from there to coward?

AliasZ 8:18 AM  

Recently I was playing TWOUP with Dook and Mr. & Mrs. Goup, so this answer came easily.

Favorite words of the day: FRESHETS and POLTROON. I am grateful to Caleb Emmons for reviving these colorful words. POLTROON from the Old Italian poltrone, derivative of pulliter, pullus (Lat.) -- foal, young animal -- has been used just once each during Margaret Farrar's, Will Weng's, Maleska's, and today under Shortz's editorship. Wow! I'd much rather see words like this than another ORR, OTT or YOKO ONO. Nothing wrong with SISS either -- used 35 times since Farrar.

It is interesting how we often complain that a puzzle's theme is lame and just sits there doing nothing particularly exciting for us, but we also complain when it is unexpected, very clever, and jumps up and bites us. This one did the latter for me, and I loved it. It is the only time I can forgive the winning tick-tack-toe line.

I for one second Jeff Chen's Puzzle-Of-the-Week vote. Great work, Caleb. This one will be remembered long after many others with pristine fill will have faded from memory.

Let's hear it for The HERO and FRITZ Reiner.

joho 8:18 AM  

@LMS, I agree with you about the GHOST fix. It's definitely better than EBON/BSA/SASS. @Steve J, you should try your hand at constructing. It's fascinating to play with the choices you have in any one section of the grid ...or lack thereof.

Another thing I noticed today was that there's no D. The usual suspects, JQX & Y, aren't present, but it's odd not to see a D.

Obvious Man 8:23 AM  

Hey @ Chefbea: I know, why don't you type "144 gross" into the google and see what it says? Then you won't have to ask embarrassing questions in a public forum!

Colby 8:34 AM  

A DNF on a Tuesday takes a toll on the ego. The crosses on POLTOON and FRESHETS did me in. Probably could have sat with it a little longer and finished, but it's a Tuesday for crying out loud.

Ludyjynn 8:40 AM  

Easy-medium ICI. SISS (kept wanting hISS), FRESHET and POLTROON were all new to me, but worth the momentary hesitation in order to execute the TIGHTKNIT theme, which was the PITH of this puzzle.

Esp. liked the clue for FIST.

The escalation of personal ATTACKs on this site gives me THECREEPS.

Adranne Jeffries, IOU thanks for guest blogging today.

THOU art very clever, CE and WS. Thanks.

Andrea Ojeda 8:42 AM  

One reason I started doing puzzles was to learn the language better, so I always did them with a thesaurus at hand (useful today for POLTROON). Another more modern but great tool? Urban Dictionary, which today I used to get 144.

pmdm 8:55 AM  

My, some brutal comments and a brutal write-up today. I feel the need to repeat Glimmerglass's comment which reflects my reaction to the puzzle. So does Jeff Chen's.

A Monday puzzle should be easily solved by beginners, and a Tuesday puzzle should be solvable for beginners with some difficulty and without a need to look up answers. So how does one inject some unusual words into a Tuesday puzzle without requiring dumb cross answers? Today's puzzle solved that problem by telling you what vowel belongs in the answer. Without that clue, I would never have gotten POLTROON.

I'm not sure what my exact reaction is towards those who dislike puzzles that use words they never heard of, but I'm sure it's not positive. 'Nuff said about that.

The Welsh language uses W and Y as vowels. (Think BRYN MAWR.) I visited Great Britain once and rented a car to drive around. Driving on the "wrong" side of the road was not frightening at all, even when using a clutch to shift, but reading the city and town names on the road signs when driving though Wales was very frightening. But I digress. I'm sure it would never make it into the NY Times because it most certainly would have to include too many obscure names derived from Welsh, but I would love to see a puzzle using today's theme but including W and Y rows. Maybe expand the grid to 17x17 and only insert the W and Y rows into one of the three sets of rows (giving a new meaning to "AEIOU and sometimes W and Y". That would be cool.

Carola 8:59 AM  

I'm in the "Gosh, I loved it camp" - right from the START, with CRISP and TIGHT-KNIT all the way to FRESHETS. I liked learning what POLTROON really meant (I'd thought "oaf" or "lout") as I did learning a non-mighty-hunter meaning for NIMROD yesterday. I thought the reveal was terrific and also liked the little ornamental trills of the other vowel runs, AAA, OOO, III, IOU. So, the sound of this fan is not HUM but a cheer - nice job, Caleb Emmons!

chefbea 9:01 AM  

@obvious man...I didn't realize my question was so embarrassing!!!!!

Roo Monster 9:28 AM  

Hey All !
Yes, very nifty construction. I have a puz in to Will now with a similar theme (always seem to get beat to the punch by someone else!) although it's not every row. Waiting now for the "Just recently had this type theme" rejection e-mail!

@Lewis is probably busy counting all the double letters. Wow, quite a bit. And 4 triples. Fairly easy, some difficult answers, but not too much in the dreck department considering the theme. There is quite a lot of black squares though, 42. Normally 38 is max, but Will does make exceptions when he thinks a puz is cool. And it doesn't seem like that many.

Also noticed the no Y (but not the no D) which added a extra bit to the puz. Overall, nice.


Obvious Man 9:29 AM  

@Chefbea: It's probably not your fault. You were probably one of those children who was taught that "there is no such thing as a stupid question." This turns out to be false.

mathgent 9:46 AM  

I was trying to remember where I'd seen "poltroon" before. It sounded like it might be from Shakespeare but I just read that it only appears there once, in Henry VI, Part 3, which I haven't read. I've come across "freshets" a number of times in reading fiction. Hemingway, maybe?

I agree with most of the negative comments but I thought that it was more fun than the average Tuesday. The theme actually helped me solve the puzzle. It told me how to spell RUFUS.

Z 9:48 AM  

I actually swore at the S-Fest in the SE, then came back west and got to the reveal and thought "impressive." If ever PHILIP III was okay to use in a puzzle, this is it. Place me firmly in the "Like" camp.

@Steve J - Yep, good fix.

@Masked and anonymous - Jeez Louise, even with three dedicated lines the U gets short shrift.

@ChefBea - a dozen dozen is known as a gross. You don't buy beets by the gross, so that may be the issue.

Regarding POLTROON, I'm almost positive I learned that word from Bugs Bunny.

@Obvious Man - PSST - You were just chastised and didn't realize it. You are the one we find embarrassing.

Sir Hillary 9:50 AM  

Feels a little stunt-ish for a Tuesday, but that's cool.

The sentences by @LMS and @sometimes why are worth the price of admission just by themselves.

Would have been great if the revealer had been where SHIPS is, and I'm guessing the constructor tried that, to no avail.

Only quibble is SISS, if only because, as @Steve J points out, it could have been so easily avoided.

I have never seen POLTROON written until today, so I initially wrote PaLTROON. I have heard it spoken, however, in exactly one setting -- a classic Warner Brothers cartoon in which Porky Pig and Sylvester the Cat come across a ghost town and decide to stay the night. Danger lurks everywhere, but only Sylvester notices it. Porky is completely oblivious and can't understand Sylvester's angst, at one point calling him a "p-p-p-poltroon of a chicken cat."

joho 9:53 AM  

It would be a terrible thing to be the POLTROON in your platoon.

OK, that's 3, I'm outta here ... but before I go, thank you, Caleb, for your wonderful puzzle! You deserve an A(IEOU)!

Gina 9:55 AM  

Thanks Adrianne Jeffries, for the fine write-up, and for letting me know about the Ngram viewer. I was very glad to find out about that. So far I used it to look up the word “snoot”, which was apparently huge at one time.

At first, I thought that Loren Muse Smith’s comment that the puzzle has no “Y” was connected to the fact that “Y” is sometimes a vowel, and that LMS was (for the sake of completeness) suggesting that the theme should have sometimes included a “Y”. I was ready to write: LMS’s suggestion has no “W”! Which I thought might have made sense, and now I’m not so sure.

I notice that there are only a couple of Ws in the puzzle. (Shared by stew & trawl, for one example, which sounds as if it ought to be a menu category.) If a vowel can be defined as a ‘a letter that sounds with no “hard articulation”’, then wouldn’t W almost always be a vowel (as in Stew & Trawl), not just in dipthongs or, as “pmdm" said at 8:55, the Welsh languge, (which has made a huge under-appreciated contribution to the English language). By the way, I live in a neighborhood known as Bryn Mawr, which sounds very poetic when spoken by a Welsh speaker.

Thanks, Caleb Emmons for a terrific puzzle.

Hartley70 9:58 AM  

Just what @LudyJynn said.

@OM Nearly everyone here will at some point not be able to see what is an obvious answer to others. It's part of the human condition and it's endearing to see a friend admit to such a tiny failing. You should try it. It might keep you humble.

CCCP and POLTROON were lost in a Natick strip mall for me. I didn't even try to run the alphabet for that last P. Everything else was fair game and this was the best Tuesday I've seen so far.

Leapfinger 10:01 AM  

Cool. A couple of days ago, CALEB was in the fill; today, he's the constructioneer.

@JTHurst, funny about Freshets (if it isn't, it should be), but best was misspelling CSI.

@Adrianne, nice surprise to see you today. I'm not sure exactly what getting something 'organically' involves, but POLTROON was right there when 4D wouldn't allow something POLitical. Can I get you some ketchup for your fedora?

POLTROON was cool enough to have me remark on the single-O/double-O pattern, so when SHOT HOOPS appeared, I thought that was the theme, somehow. Next up, THE CREEPS shot that out of the water, so I modified to a 'single-vowel/double-vowel' pattern. At least I was right in focusing on the vowels. Has @Z revivified hie 'vowel movement' yet?

SISS rather brought on a hiss fit, but fill like NONO and OOO is there to fulfill the theme. It's such a cool concept, you have to support the AEIOU vowel run, unless you suffer from the dire ear.
I particularly liked the look of PHILIPIIII, THOUgh my favourite PHILIP is II, because
a. Habsburg lip
b. Armada
c. was willing to marry whoever in order to remake England Catholic for the HRE (related to b)
d. Escorial

Unexpectedly entertaining 'for a Tuesday', CALEB, I think it 'sneet.

Billy C 10:07 AM  

@Sometimes Why: I see what you did there. Clever.

Obvious Man 10:11 AM  

Why is RUFUS the answer to "singer/songwriter Wainwright?"
(I wonder if there's a way I could find out other than posting my question in this forum?)

weingolb 10:31 AM  

This is the very definition of a constructor's puzzle. Not a player's puzzle at all. It runs with a theme that ultimately encourages the abandonment of vowels—kind of a problem. RRR, SSTS, CCCP, TKT, PSST (of course, all are Downs, given the restriction). So it's a failure in terms of fill. That's my take. Too Rex-ish?

SISS is a crapshoot. Is it a word or an onomatopoeia? Maybe it is OK, as @Alias Z point out? Seems fairly horrible.

On the plus side, there were some especially tricky crossings that gave verve to a drab Tuesday. ATHOS and AAAMAPS (as green paint-ish as it is) comes to mind. Didn't find it as easy as Adrianne Jeffries did.

Loren Muse Smith 10:31 AM  

@Tita – Hah! There I was thinking that Phil had a pet snake. And I was looking over the grid trying to figure out its name. I was leaning toward FRITZ or RUFUS. Autoconnect is an endless source of funny stuff.

@Gina – I see how my comment would come across as a nit. But, no, I was just appreciating the fact that there was no Y. Interesting facts from you and @pmdm about Welsh, by the way.

@chefbea – "144" and GROSS threw me, too. Then I remembered in my reptilian brain that it was some kind of measure. I never take issue with people asking about the meaning of entries -I do it myself enough; it's just another way to share the fact that an entry confused, and such comments are part of why this place makes me feel better about something I, too, had trouble with. Thanks for that.

E. S. Child 10:32 AM  

@Obvious Man (is that a redundancy?

Fortunately, some of us were taught that there is such a thing as a stupid answer.

'RUFoUS' means 'red'; look up Red Wainwright.

Let us know when you catch the goose.

John V 10:38 AM  

Found this one ugly, joyless. Thought the NE an example of a classically bad corner.

Billy C 10:38 AM  

@FauxBillyC10:07 --

If you're not just dissing me with the use of my handle, I'd ask you to choose another one. I was here first.

-- The Real Billy

Mr. Benson 10:39 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
So sad 10:41 AM  

Some of you guys seem to Autoconnect while apparently ignoring the wrest of us

Mr. Benson 10:41 AM  

I'm with the majority here: clever idea, but too many compromises to make it a fun solving experience. I'm just glad we had Adrienne to fill in today, with a relatively negative but reasoned/nuanced review, as opposed to Rex, who would have trashed it from start to finish and tossed off yet another comment about the failings of the editor

Charles Flaster 10:46 AM  

Fun, easy puzzle.
Agreed on the weak fill but loved the theme and the new vocabulary.
I SHOT HOOPS for many years and loved every minute.
Thanks AJ and CE.

John Whitaker 10:46 AM  

47 down in my paper reads..."Noteworthy features of rows 1-5, 6-10 and 11-15, in that order". This is totally misleading as there is no row 1-5, it is 1-4.
Same goes for 6-10 it is 5-9, etc.
How the h... am I supposed to get anything from this clue.

Leapfinger 10:50 AM  

SISS isn't getting much love at all, is it? otoh, it did remind me of Carnak (oops, almost made that Carnal) the Magnificent.

The TWOUP afterward are semi-extraneous.

weingolb 10:56 AM  

I can agree with those who liked the puzzle. It's refreshing, you can marvel at it. But I believe that the solving of a themed puzzle like this happens in its construction. Caleb had to solve it to make it because of the huge constraints. And that's where all the fun happens. Solvers are left with a solve that can be joyless. Sure, solvers can admire what went on before they got to it, and perhaps some novel fill. But I guess I feel like the constructor had more fun making it than I did completing it.

chefbea 10:57 AM  

@Z I guess I should have known..because I am nearing a gross of shoes!!! Can never have too many

Malsdemare 11:00 AM  

@Tita. Nope, no POLTROONS but enough Marys and Mary Anns to fill a medium sized church. Oh, and Michaels. This family had NO imagination. Fun fact: two Morand Burshares (cousins) married two Mary Anns on Feb 28, 1827 in the same church with the same priest. Can't you just see them all hooting over the fun of this? Not so much fun for the genies two hundred years later, but I can't help but see them giggling as they make their plans.

I really liked the puzzle. Got POLTROON from the crosses, recognized SNOOT (for some reason that word reminds me of the New Yorker icon), hated SISS and its ilk. But that's okay, 'cause I had fun with the rest.

Mr. Mal will sit at his computer and speller in one room while I edit in another and yell "how do you spell . . . " I guess I'm his personal Google, and rather like the idea. I like people asking questions in this blog; when I know the answer, I feel smart, and when I don't I'm relieved I'm not the only ignoramous in the bunch.

Back to "Musculoskeletal injuries in sport."

jberg 11:06 AM  

I initially interpreted the revealer the same way as @John Whitaker -- i.e., that "row 1-5" meant the blank squares from that numbered 1 through that numbered 5. How lame! I thought. Then I got AT BAT, saw that the As extended beyone square 5, and realized that 'rows 1-5' meant the first five rows in the puzzle, going down. Somehow, that initial mistake made me admire the brilliance of this theme even more.

I knew POLTROON from the P. It's interesting that Warner Bros. are cited for both this word and the redefinition of Nimrod yesterday. Maybe that's the meta-theme for the week (or maybe it's answers clued "Peter, Paul, and Mary, for example.")

I had the much better-known PHILlip II before PHILIP III, and spent what seemed like hours pondering whether you could possibly have 'THE CREEPh,' as 35D had to be hISS. I got that one right; but DNF because I didn't know Aussie games, and went with AAA MAg (changed from Mug by the theme) as the freebie.

What I learned: that a FRESHET is a sudden flood; I always thought it was a tiny but fast-moving mountain stream. God know why.

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

@John Whitaker - The grid has 15 rows and 15 columns. Row 1-5 in the instruction means the first five rows of the 15x15 grid, it has nothing to do with the clue numbering.

Joseph Michael 11:20 AM  

Agree with those who found the theme very impressive but the solve lacking.

Got the theme early on, but didn't know CCCP or POLTROON so DNF. However, I did like learning a new word for utter cowards.

With FRESHETS, SISS, CERES, TWO UP and PHILLIP III joining CCCP and POLTROON, it felt like a puzzle for later in the week.

Favorite answer: THE CREEPS.

Anonymous 11:25 AM  

It's a favorite word of Reepicheep in the Narnia series, so maybe there? That's where I learned it.

mac 11:31 AM  

Pretty clever Tuesday to me, with some very good words: Poltroon, freshets, tight knit and the creeps.

Agree with some of the negative critics, but all in all it was a step about the usual dreary Tuesday.

Love that twoup in the middle.

Leapfinger 11:36 AM  

It's bad GNUS when you are at some formal affair and everything seems okay SOFA but then suddenly something goes SPRUNG. THO U were careful to CHECK your TIGHTKNITS, they now START THE CREEPS, RUSHING into parts unknown.

First, you just HUM a bit, then the IRK elicits an ORK. You begin to STEW as your baritone turns first TENON, then ALTO.

Then the ATTACK hits that sweet SPOT and it feels like someone just SHOTHOOPS with your PACS. Nothing for it then but to break out in GROSS GRUNTS cuz you're really PITHed.


You're ARIL HERO if you survive all that. Especially if you happen to be wearing a CCCP.

Now, is that pATHOS or bATHOS? Good luck to all y'all FRA LIPIII

Gerry Wildenberg 11:57 AM  

I absolutely hated 30-Down SISS. Have you ever read or heard it? The word we use is: HISS. I checked the on-line Webster's -- SISS is in the unabridged dictionary which testifies to its rarity. Then I checked Google Ngram and found SISS was approximately 1/10 as common as POLTROON. Need I say more? Oh, one more bit of evidence, I see that my mailer has flagged it as a misspelling.

Theme was OK but for me, SISS was a deal breaker.

But, one more thing, substitute GOA or BOA or BEA for CSI and the problem goes away. That's the last straw, SISS is both awful AND easily eliminated.


Didja notice? 12:26 PM  

@GerryW, of course, your solution eliminates not only SISS but also the theme.

Tom O'Neill 12:26 PM  

Enough with the complaints about "poltroon." I learned the word long about 9th grade American History. I was shocked that George Washington cursed. He accused General Charles Lee of cowardice after the battle of Monmouth by calling him "A damned poltroon." Never forgot it, perhaps because of the connection between "being chicken" and poultry.

Tom O'Neill 12:28 PM  

Enough with the complaints about "poltroon." I learned the word long about 9th grade American History. I was shocked that George Washington cursed. He accused General Charles Lee of cowardice after the battle of Monmouth by calling him "A damned poltroon." Never forgot it, perhaps because of the connection between "being chicken" and poultry.

evil doug 12:37 PM  


Anonymous 12:45 PM  

Good? That's it?

Benko 12:45 PM  

POLTROON is a cool word, but 'm pretty sure that Bugs only used the term MAROON, as a variation of "moron".

Martel Moopsbane 1:03 PM  

As Leapy implied, SISS would have been fine if clued as "one third of a cheer" or similar. As actually clued, not so much.

Not to stir the (paint)pot, but does AAAMAP qualify as green paint?

Martel Moopsbane 1:07 PM  

oops, missed weingolb's comment on AAAMAP earlier.

I DID notice... 1:27 PM  

@didja notice: details, details.

Glowwer 1:29 PM  

DNF, as I never heard of Poltroon (and yet, Glimmerglass, I am an avid reader of newspapers, novels, non-fiction.) Crossing with CCCP was a problem for me. Also, never heard of Twoup, so AAA Man messed me up as well. A more difficult Tuesday for me.

nrota 1:29 PM  

What does POC mean in a crossword blog because it's clearly very different from what it means on twitter.

OED has "from French poltron, from Italian poltrone, perhaps from poltro 'sluggard'" for Poltroon which seems more helpful to me.

foxaroni 1:46 PM  

In "The Fellowship of the Ring," the story begins with Bilbo throwing a party for his 111th (eleventy-first) birthday. It is also Frodo's 33rd birthday--the two birthdays adding up to 144. Bilbo says, "Together we score one hundred and forty-four. Your numbers were chosen to fit this remarkable total: One Gross, if I may use the expression." No cheers.... Many of his guests, and especially the Sackville-Bagginses, were insulted, feeling sure they had only been asked to fill up the required number...."

Aketi 1:49 PM  

@Leapfinger, enjoyed Carnak.
@Chefbea, a GROSS isn't even close to Imelda's collection. Agree you can never have too many.

mathgent 1:53 PM  

I don't listen to rap either but I found a trove of names in the Arts section of today's NYT. In the review of the Nicki Minaj concert: Meek Mill, Dej Loaf, Eminem, Jay Z, Lil Wayne, Young Money, Drake, as well as the dynamic Ms. Minaj, herself. I'll be ready for the clue " Rapper ___ Loaf."

Roo Monster 2:16 PM  

POC means Plural Of Convenience. Which means adding an S (or ES) to a word to fit the allotted length.

Invented by @Anoa Bob, I believe. Someone will correct me if I'm wrong.


Tita 2:49 PM  

Forgot to mention how gobsmacked I was when today's theme was a continuation of @loren's coulda-been-a-theme musings from yesterday.
And hats off top her and @sometimes why for even more in-theme creativity today

Alicia Stetson 2:49 PM  

The women on this blog are incredibly progressive: so much talk about cooking, and shoes, and hair, and nails... We're gonna party like it's 1959!

John Hagen 2:57 PM  

Consider the Chambers Dictionary and companion Thesaurus. Better than an "old" crossword dictionary I have from the 1980s.

OISK 2:59 PM  

Very surprised that anyone was unfamiliar with CCCP, but that might be a generational thing. The "P" if I am not mistaken has the sound of the English "R", like the Greek Rho to which I assume it is related. This went faster than yesterday's, so I agree with the "easy" rating. I had trouble only when "two up" crossed "Rufus," having never heard of either, but "U" was the only letter that made any sense.

For me, about as pleasant a Tuesday as I have seen in a long time.

(32 across might be clued "Anonymice who keep picking on Nancy...")

John Hagen 3:00 PM  

Good idea also to ban anything from "The Ring" and "Hobbit" from puzzles also. Yech.

Tita 3:12 PM  

I think @Alicia Stetson is actually Donald Trump. How else could you explain her/his occasional grenades slamming entire groups at once? Oh wait - no, can't be - The Donald always puts his name all over everything.
So I guess Alicia is just an ordinary idiot.

Excuse my harshness, @everyoneelse, but her name does stand out as someone who has called a few of us idiots in the past.

Chill! And, maybe if you could cook, you'd know the sublime joy of creating something wonderful that makes you and your lucky invitees supremely happy. And therefore wouldn't dismiss it as something that liberated women have risen above.

(GN - keep out of this)
Damn - there I go taking the bait again - well, at least she's not an anon.

Julie LaVerne 3:17 PM  

@Alicia Stetdaughter, you want progressive? How about an in-depth (shallow depth) discussion about TIGHTKNITs and and the places they CREEP?

Carry your soap-box around much? ;D

Aketi 3:43 PM  

@Alicia Stetson, a true feminist embraces ALL the roles that women can choose in their lives, be it pursuing a career in a previously male-dominated field, choosing a career in a female-dominated field, enjoying motherhood, eschewing motherhood, practicing Martial Arts, or buying pretty shoes. A little frivolity and feminity do not negate feminism.

evil doug 3:57 PM  

You know, you're really pissing in the wind when you try to defend your glorious cause vs. unknown morons in this absurd setting.

Anoa Bob 4:18 PM  

SISS with no boom? Bah!

What's in a name? 4:28 PM  

Two days in a row where the names "Larry, Moe, and Curly" could have been substituted for "Peter, Paul, and Mary" and still would have given the correct answer. Impressive.

Donald Trump 4:35 PM  

My wife Ivana had a nice shoe collection. I guess she was a feminist too!

Anonymous 4:50 PM  

Ivana still trumps the Donald. She's a decent business woman and she has much better hair.


Ed McMahon 4:58 PM  

@Anoa Bob, Carnak beat you to it by several hours (see 10:50am)

Anonymous 5:06 PM  

Anon@ 4:50: "She has much better hair." That's a pretty low bar.

evil doug 5:08 PM  

All I know is that Trump could tun this country much better than the Kenyan usurper we have now. At least Trump would know how to keep the job-stealing Mexicans out.

Nancy 5:15 PM  

A hectic morning that began with no NY Times in front of my door, hence no puzzle. Then...well, I won't bore the Anonymice with details, but suffice it to say that I didn't get to the puzzle until just now. Then I came here to find out that I haven't been missed at all today; yesterday's nasty Anonymouse, who seemingly has no life of his own whatsoever other than being exceedingly unpleasant to people he's never even met, is STILL railing today about my post from early yesterday. GET A LIFE, pal.

@OISK -- Thanks for the support, even though I didn't see it till just now. And you, too, @Ludy. I too might have THE CREEPS from this Anonymouse (and I for one, think it's just ONE person who is responsible for all the worst abuse aimed at so many different people and for so many different reasons) if I thought I'd ever meet him in real life. But he's nothing more than type on a page and, hence, is not remotely important. We should all instead focus on the wonderful friends we're making on this blog, whom we've emailed, spoken to on the phone and sometimes even met. I have had great good fortune in this regard and feel that going on this blog is one of the best things I've ever done. As for the Anonymice (mouse?), @lms (who does have a winning way with words) put it best maybe a month or two ago. She called them (him?) "a boil on the butt of this blog." I'm pretty sure those were her words and at the time I thought" "Great phrase! I wish I'd said that!"

The puzzle, finally. I didn't know POLTROON either, but was actually happy for some difficulty in a puzzle in which too many of the clues seemed positively mindless. Very meh, as far as I was concerned.

evil doug 5:27 PM  

Trump's an idiot.

Anonymous 5:35 PM  

Trump is the republican chickens coming home to roost.

Anonymous 5:45 PM  

evil you seem to be schizophrenic

Foghorn Leghorn 6:30 PM  

Republican chickens everywhere resemble that remark, Suh!

Teedmn 6:50 PM  

Boo SISS to SISS, but otherwise I liked this puzzle. PHILIPIII not as random as the usual RRN offerings. Liked AAAMAP aaa lot. POLTROON not a WOE at all though I needed more than just the P to plunk it down.

@Tita, you are getting the runaround with the autocorrect, yesterday's parasitical and today's snake. Looking around the grid before seeing your correction, I saw PITHS and thought puzspouse might have a python, but your correction had me giggling for quite some time.

I bow to Mr. Emmons' creativity and persistence, as his comments at Wordplay make it clear this puzzle was a bear to create. @SteveJ's suggestion would have fixed the one IRK I had.

Evan Jordan 7:48 PM  

Same here

kitshef 11:41 PM  

@Nancy - I missed you. I was thinking I'd have to do a search as I must have missed you, when you came in a the end (well, still many hours before me).

OK with POLTROON, hated SISS, and I apparently am alone in thinking TENON is an outlier for a Tuesday.

Did not work as a Tuesday puzzle. I think we we had to work and work and finally get the reveal, this could have been a fun puzzle. But because it's a Tuesday you just kind of float through it and never need the reveal.

Anonymous 12:04 AM  

You are a piece of scrap.

+wordphan 1:27 AM  

Well done, Adrianne! Come back and see us!

Amy K 1:28 AM  

Well, my dear guest blogger, I guess you do have to eat your hat, but I'll join you. Thank you for explaining this silly theme, anyhow!

I bean better 1:34 AM  

You are a pea, soft scrap.

Andrea Ojeda 4:18 AM  

Thanks! Will do

Aketi 6:54 AM  

This looks like a tasty hat.

Jeff H 10:30 AM  

I got "poltroon" thanks to SNL celebrity jeopardy. Sean Connery hurls the term at Alex Trebek 6 minutes in.

spacecraft 10:39 AM  

Yesterday my post never appeared. It was most innocuous; I can't for the life of me figure out what got it censored. Whatever I said, I'm sorry and I didn't mean it! Blog Author, PLEASE come on this site and TELL me what I did wrong!

Today, I'm afraid I might offend someone. This puzzle had a CRISP, TIGHTKNIT START...but then it SPRUNG a leak and we were deluged with a FRESHET of repeating vowels. PSST, SISS (egad!) and SSTS made me want to take a shower. Granted, the constraints imposed by the grid-wide theme are considerable, but yikes! PHILIPIII? POLTROON is a definite Tuesday outlier, but faintly familiar. TWOUP is 100% new to me.

I don't know whether to condemn the constructor for some of those outlandish entries, or praise his chutzpah for trying it. A POLTROON he is NOT! I guess I'll just say OOO! Since we started down with CCCP, I'll borrow one of those C's for today's grade.

Burma Shave 11:31 AM  


THECREEPS CHECK out her sweater,
She earns a TENON the CRISP fit,
And the GNUS CHAT STARTs to get better,


rondo 12:28 PM  

AAA III RRR OOO CCC(P). PSST SSTS AEIOU & IOU. What a CERES of answers. Ouch and Ho-HUM.

Had a dish in Azerbaijan called Sac ICI (sotch eechy) which I was told means “all in one pot”; it was a spicy sort of STEW. Very good. Try it if you go.

RUFUS Wainwright has some good songs, especially one about attending a high school reunion.

Not much more to say. Tues-puz day is the PITHS.

Anonymous 6:23 PM  

Hey, no complaints here. This puzz was Easy and no research or look-ups for me. It is coincidental that today's LA Times puzz has the same answer: AEIOU. The clue was "vowel fivesome." No Y, Loren M. so you'll just have to grit your teeth.

I like the idea that unfamiliar words like poltroon and freshets and twoup appear now and then. It reminds me of a teacher in English class who always said: "You should learn a new word every day and try to use it in a sentence." Boy, was she strict. I still remember the day she said: "Mr. xxxx, if you don't behave I will literally throw you out this window." She was the drama coach and wafted over to the window and placed her extended finger on the glass. The class roared and I behaved after that. She was one darn good teacher.

I usually don't do Mon or Tues so I assume Spacecraft's rating of C is acceptable.

Ron Diego, La Mesa, CA
(Where all its citizens can hear a tree fall in a distant forest.)

leftcoastTAM 7:30 PM  

Good to see you back as Burma Shave, @Burma Shave.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP