Goo goo eyed old style / TUE 8-11-15 / Ones steeped in tradition in England / Biblical kingdom its Utah namesake / Messy sandwich filler / Sweatship regulator / Nattering sort in Spiro Agnew speech / Classic beer once brewed in Detroit

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Constructor: Jay Kaskel and Daniel Kantor

Relative difficulty: Dunno. I had to stop several times to let the rage subside.

THEME: PULLED PORK (59A: Messy sandwich filler ... or a hint to this puzzle's circled letters) — the letters P and O and R and K appear in order, but separated from one another, in four theme answers that start with P and end with K:

Theme answers:
  • PHONE PRANK (17A: Frequent Bart Simpson antic)
  • PUSH YOUR LUCK (23A: Ask the boss for more vacation time after getting a raise, perhaps)
  • PIN ONE'S EARS BACK (34A: Scold a person)
  • PLYMOUTH ROCK (50A: Landmark with the year 1620 inscribed on it)
Word of the Day: MINOT (51D: North Dakota city with a nearby Air Force base) —
Minot (Listeni/ˈmnɒt/ MY-not) is a city located in north central North Dakota, United States. It is most widely known for the Air Force base located approximately 15 miles (24 km) north of the city. With a population of 40,888 at the 2010 census, Minot is the fourth largest city in the state. In 2012, the Minot Area Development Corporation estimated that there were between 46,000 and 47,000 permanent residents within city limits. The city is the county seat of Ward County and is a trading center for a large portion of northern North Dakota, southwestern Manitoba, and southeastern Saskatchewan. Founded in 1886 during the construction of the Great Northern Railway, Minot is also known as "Magic City", commemorating its remarkable growth in size over a short time. // Minot is the principal city of the Minot Micropolitan Statistical Area, a micropolitan area that covers McHenry, Renville, and Ward counties and had a combined population of 69,540 at the 2010 census. In 2012, it was estimated that the population of the Minot Micropolitan Area was 73,146 (wikipedia)
• • •

This puzzle is unacceptable. No constructor I know, not a one, would've let a grid this unpolished get to print (to say nothing of the generally lackluster clues). I am genuinely tired of pointing this stuff out, but since most puzzle professionals won't say a damned thing publicly about how poorly conceived and edited the NYT puzzles can be of late, I'm kind of on my own here (although privately any constructor or editor worth his/her salt will tell you exactly what's wrong with this puzzle, exactly what could be easily changed, exactly where the wincing happens, etc.—you can probably do same). So ... the theme has promise (not the OLEO kind of Promise, but promise nonetheless). It's based on a common constructing gimmick: take a common/familiar phrase and literalize it in some way. Here, PORK is being PULLED apart in the various answers. If ever there was a reason for non-consecutive circles in a puzzle (which I normally don't care for), this is it. But there's one big problem: I know the gimmick from the jump. Once you get PHONE PRANK, all the circles and the revealer can be filled in immediately. So whatever cleverness is involved in the concept is offset by what happens at the actual solving level. Same letters are pulled over and over and over. Theme is way too transparent. But this is merely unfortunate. It saps the puzzle of its power to please and entertain, but it is not unprofessional.

["Hey guys, I'm looking for a Jacques Strap!"]

What *is* unprofessional, again (and again and again), is the outright sloppiness and laziness of the fill and the cluing. I literally stopped at SMIT (6A: Goo-goo-eyed, old-style) and took a time out because I couldn't believe the "Best Puzzle in the World" couldn't be bothered to remove such an obvious, horrible, easily fixable stupid archaic ye olde wart of an answer. We get NABOB for the Second Day In A Row, which says Everything about what's wrong here, and in general. Everything is so OLD HAT, so out-of-a-dusty-drawer or mothbally closet. I can't believe anyone put any care at all into making the grid, cluing the grid, editing the grid ... puzzles, even very easy puzzles, can be So much better than this. There's really no excuse for OHTO or SMIT or even (in the case of an easily fillable 78-worder like this) SKEE, MINOT, UELE, CEE, ECRU, ONEA, OLEO, LAPP, OSHA, MANO and probably many others. The grid is devoid of interesting or contemporary fill. The cluing is stale (with notable exception of [Ones steeped in tradition in England?] for TEAS, which is a winner). After the theme, the rest of the puzzle is just phoned in. A promising theme concept doesn't get the crafting and love it needs to become an overall Good 2015 puzzle, and so we get this—an echo of a memory of a puzzle from earlier times, decades ago, when fill standards were simply lower, when cluing was more straightforward and less artful. This is the kind of puzzle that gives crossword puzzles their reputation as a moribund pastime for the moribund.

The NYT is about to get serious, daily competition from two new outlets: the WSJ (which has published a Friday 21x21 for a long time) starts a daily 15x15 puzzle in the near future, as does BuzzFeed, which just posted specs and a sample puzzle yesterday. BuzzFeed is matching NYT's pay right off the bat, which is a great sign, as is the joyful enthusiasm of BuzzFeed's crossword editor, Caleb Madison. The BuzzFeed puzzle might end up playing a little poppy and youthful for some of you, but that's OK. Different kinds of solvers like different kinds of puzzles. What's not OK is slop. I have very high hopes for the future of crosswords in general. My hopes for the future of the NYT crossword in particular aren't as high. Great constructors will continue to submit, so the high points will still be high, but I have no reason to believe that the average quality level won't continue to slowly and quietly sink (or, perhaps, hover, while other outlets shine). Rigorous polishing and up-to-date, clever cluing don't appear to be a high priority at the NYT right now. Maybe the new competition will raise all boats. But I won't hold my breath.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Here's Oliver Roeder's write-up of Lollapuzzoola 8 for the NYT. I'll have my own write-up soon enough.

P.P.S. A friend of mine just wrote me, re: PIN ONE'S EARS BACK: "Using "one's" this way means you're pinning your own ears back. Why would you be scolding yourself??? As if there isn't enough wrong with this puzzle ...."

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Steve J 12:15 AM  

I didn't find this to be that terrible. That said, I didn't find it to be terribly good, either.

Very nondescript. Somehow most of the bad fill eluded my notice - probably because I filled this in so quickly, there was a lot of stuff that got filled in entirely from crosses - but there sure is a lot of it now that I look back. PUSH YOUR LUCK and PULLED PORK were nice answers, but otherwise, it was pretty blah.

jae 12:15 AM  

Easy-medium for me.  The theme was goofy/off the wall (also liking the slash @ed) but in a good way.   So, despite the fill problems, I liked this  more than Rex did.

CRude before CRASS

UELE should have been a WOE but I've seen it before in tougher puzzles.

Had  STROHS or two growing up in northern Ohio, which if I remember correctly, is in the general vicinity of Detroit (hi @Z)

PIN ONES EARS BACK strikes me as very OLD HAT.

Siri Gottlieb 12:29 AM  

I feel your pain.

Music man 12:32 AM  

Ohh so that's why I ultimately DNF'd a few squares.


There was UBER though... :)

wreck 12:40 AM  

I just can't seem to get in a rage about ANY Monday or Tuesday puzzle. They are what they are. The NYT is not in the business of catering to the admttantly more erudite standards of the solvers that come here or other dedicated blogs. There are thousands of everyday solvers that enjoyed a puzzle that they could finish and went away happy. -- JMO

Z 12:43 AM  

Tell us what you really think Rex. Not that I disagree on the tired fill. But, and this is a big but, the NYTX still seems to rake in the $ and most people don't know the difference. I have three puzzles every Monday through Saturday in the local paper (Detroit Free Press) and only one comes consistently close to the NYTX. Aficionados can see the difference, those of us doing BEQ and AVCX and Devil Crossword and Aimlessly Themeless. Everyone else? It's like asking them why Donald Trump is a bad idea.

TokyoRacer 12:55 AM  

Totally agree. The theme was pathetic and I'm getting tired of solving tired NYT puzzles. I'll try Buzzfeed, thanks.

Davis 1:10 AM  

What a sad little puzzle this was.

Who even says "PHONE PRANK"?

DebinSac 1:10 AM  

I did this quickly enough that I never saw the theme until I finished, when I looked at what the circled letters spelled out. The puzzle was fine by me, but I don't ask for more than a few minutes of entertainment. Mostly, I wanted to say that I was glad to learn a few more outlets will be running daily puzzles, and to ask that Rex post links to subscribe when those are available. And now I am going to work Caleb Madison's sample puzzle...

Aketi 1:50 AM  

@Rex, hahaha, you are clearly back in full fighting form. No mere PINning ONE'S EARS BACK for an OLD HAT puzzle that's so yesterday it belongs in the last millennium -- more like ripping the ears off, chewing them up, and spitting them back out. Reminds me of Ronda Rousy who either KOS or armbars most of her opponents in less than a minute. And here I was going to offer up my poor wee little nit about how even though I lived in the Bas UELE region and got that clue instantly, I thought that was too obscure for a puzzle. I am skittering well away from the octagon to read what the grown up express train solvers have to say about this one.

chefwen 1:59 AM  

Agree, once you gou got the PORK thing going on and filled in the little circles, iit was quite easy. I like a little trickery on a Tuesday and this one tried but didn't quite cut it. Hated SMIT @6A, but other than that, liked a whole lot more than Rex, and who doesn't like a good PULLED PORK sandwich.

Mr. Baxter 2:01 AM  

Rex, I am a long time reader of this blog. First read it four years ago now and have been working doing the NYT crossword puzzle every day for about a year now. Given your current rage strokes, this may not be the best time to ask you these questions, but I have two:

1) How do you pick the clues that go in the blog entry title (so for today's "Goo goo eyed old style" "ones steeped in tradition in England" etc.)

2) Despite working on the puzzle every day for almost a year now (and going through the catalog on the app), I feel like I am not making much progress in my crossword puzzle skills. I can get M, Tu, W no problem. About six months ago I started being able to solve Sunday puzzles (which I can solve within 24 hours of their release upwards of 50% of the time). I would say I have a similar success rate with Th, and with F and Sa I can solve them once in a blue moon (though I have been working in on my Fridays and been doing better). Any tips on how to keep improving at solving crossword puzzles? I feel like I have a hit a plateau. I know this is not a self-help blog, but I haven't been able to find much good advice out there on the internet.

Ellen S 2:07 AM  

@Rex, I agree with your assessment, and not just because I want you to post this. (No, I know you will anyway; you're being very fair about the postings as far as I can tell; giving a lot of leeway and no trolls.)

Anyway, I'm not familiar with the other (good) contemporary puzzles that Rex cites, but I'm still playing with the Tough NYT Puzzles book that I've been noodling away at for, well, years. It contains 200 puzzles published in the daily NYT (presumably Friday or Saturday) between 1996 and 1998. That's getting on for two decades but they all demand a certain intellectual rigor missing from a whole lot of the puzzles we've seen here lately. So I'm guessing that is not the simpler time he alludes to, but some still earlier era, where Cro-Magnon Solvers worked the earliest puzzles on clay tablets.

This one does not strain the little gray cells.

I went to an Improving Your Memory class a few months ago. In addition to getting enough sleep, eating right and avoiding a long list of brain-draining meds, they also recommended several kinds of "brain games" including Sudoku. But about crosswords, they warned that they "are great for sharpening language skills, but working on your spatial intelligence with a jigsaw puzzle is more likely to activate new pathways in your brain." That's quite a condemnation, but today's, hmm, it didn't even sharpen my language skills. But of course it is only Tuesday, and also, my brain is nearly plumb out of pathways -- maybe the puzzles are aimed at the aging population I am part of.

Anonymous 2:22 AM  

I totally get what you're saying about the NY Times puzzle and its declining standards vis-a-vis what we see in other "indie" outlets. But I just find it hard to understand why this particular puzzle should be the whipping boy for that opinion. The theme is a bit lame, I agree, and not so very well done, but for anyone who solves with his eyes wide open, it's pretty much on the level of about 50% of the themes in the Fireball or AV Club puzzzles.

So it comes down to "the fill." Sure, you can list a bunch of answers together in all caps and make them seem like a string of random garbage and call it criticism, but at least half of the ones you listed in this blog entry are legit words, intersting enough abbrevitions, or potential junk acceptable as clued. If "the fill" is really the issue, and what I've read in this blog tells me that, to the extent criticism of crosswords has evolved, it is THE ISSUE (and I agree that it is),then criticism of "the fill" needs to grow up. It needs to move beyond listing answers as if they were self-evidently crap simply by virtue of being identified by the blogger/critic.

Thomaso808 5:22 AM  

No comments at 5 am EDT, so we must be under moderator control!

Harsh words from Rex, but I kinda liked the puzzle. I don't expect a lot from Tuesday, but I enjoyed the theme. I liked the contrast between PUSHYOUR... and PINONES... with the different "person" adjectives. I liked the ridiculous Bart PHONEPRANK opposite the classy PLYMOUTHROCK.

PIN at 59D did raise an eyebrow -- not cool with the themer at 34A.

Lots of little three letter weejects for Mr. M&A here, my favorite of course being POI, which fits just right with the theme.

Although not the most clever cluing (it's a Tuesday, people!) none of the fill seemed strained to me and the theme was fun.

Andrea 5:54 AM  

If I may just also point out that UNO momento is horribly, so horribly wrong and, yes, it shows great sloppiness in the editing.

Loren Muse Smith 6:52 AM  

My first thought for 22D was "coarse," and when that didn’t fit, I put in "crude" confidently.

I think I usually say "press" your luck.

Once I got PUSH YOUR LUCK and PHONE PRANK, I did perfunctorily fill in the two other PORKs, but the reveal was spot on, and I appreciated that each themer had the letters PORK all truly separated. This rules out any themer with a final RK, which had to really limit the choices, ruling out things like PUNCTUATION MARK.

CEE – center of Chicago? Epic finish?

"New York minute" vs cotton pickin’ minute. I propose a "MINOT minute" – it sounds kicky, right? I had a friend who was stationed in MINOT, and I vaguely remember his telling me that his shift involved sitting underground somewhere at The Button with some other guy across the room from him at another The Button just waiting for the word for them to push The Buttons simultaneously. And am I remembering this right? Did he tell me that they each were armed in case one of them got all weird and squirrely? Maybe I dreamed that.

I noticed the SMIT, UELE, KOS, etc, but the thing that stuck out to me was the YOUR in 23A and ONE'S in 34A. I guess for PUSH YOUR LUCK, it refers back to the subject doing something to himself, and with PIN ONE'S EARS BACK, the subject is doing it to someone else, but in this case, wouldn't it be PIN someONE'S EARS BACK?

I also thought Rex would complain about the PIN dupe.

Look at the bottom row and see that NOSE gets, well, "pulled" out into NOOSE right next to it. Cool.

@Nancy, @Aketi – I didn’t mean to give the impression that I can throw knives. I got a set of throwing knives for Christmas, but I haven't figured out how to stick one consistently. Steven Segal in Under Siege makes it look so easy, but boy howdy it's not. Warning – if you decide to try this, be sure that your target backs up to a big wide structure and not a hayfield, lest you spend most of your time on your hands and knees, looking for a knife. Cursing. Itching. In the rain. For 30 minutes. (When Dad heard this, he asked why I didn't just put my target out at the end of the dock over the pond.)

@Evil – you said, "… comprised of the regular posters who have dared to risk ridicule by placing their souls up for public scrutiny." Nailed it! That's exactly what separates the regular posters from the anonymice. The anonymice risk nothing. Contribute nothing.

Just like CHEESE, I love me some PULLED PORK, so despite the blemishes, I liked the theme just fine.

Leapfinger 6:56 AM  

Too much celebrating yesterday, and this commenter folded her tent before properly thanking @jberg, @Hart of my Hartley, the genuwine mathgent and @McGillicuddy, a sometime partner in crime, who can always make an APY VERDE go 'appier. @Teedmn, you should have spoke up, gurrl, and got your due! Over the years, I've found an excess of good buds had birthdays very near to mine, so I'm convinced there's a clustering effect, and have enjoyed your posts ever since you hove over the Rexian horizon. As for the Don of the Hungarian Mafia, I so enjoyed your lyrical contribution to the cerebration. Back-to-back or belly-to-belly, there's nothing like dancing cheek-to-cheek, is there? As for wedging in the cheesy bits, your Cheez Whiz were right in my WHEELhouse: Just AS I A-GO, along CAME M(onsieur) BERT, and unTIL SITuation improves, we can just BRIES along. We may not always have Paris, but wheel always HAVARTI paths to explore. Also Sprach Pastor Muenster. You, Sir, have aged to perfection.

I know that, by all rights, this should have posted in yesterblog, but wouldn't expect to make everyone I wanted to thank go galumphing back. [Tacit thanks to tacit wellwishers, goes without saying.]

Tuesday puzzle coming under separate cover.

Lewis 7:19 AM  

Then there's the question of whether cheese and PULLED PORK go together, as they have this week.

I have my ear worm for the day (HOW DOES IT FEEL), and I liked the answers APROPOS, ILLBE, and CRASS, as well as the clues for TEA, COOP, and SOS. I like the backward ORB to go along with ORBS. The puzzle felt easy for a Tuesday; I only had the slightest bump at the intersection of UELE and ROLE. The theme was tepid, the puzzle workmanlike and with a rusty feel, but it got me rolling. Regarding that rusty feel, with old-timey answers like NABOB, ECRU, OLEO, and SKEE -- if it doesn't come around too often in puzzles, I like it. It keeps that cobweb-filled nook in my brain alive...

William C 7:37 AM  

So-o-ooo, I guess Rex didn't like this one. ;-)

chefbea 7:46 AM  

Guess I'm not really the first commenter...there are probably many before it use to be. Got the theme right away. Pulled irk is very popular down south...however I have never seen it served with poi!! Usually slaw, potato salad, chips or fries. Certainly not chili con carne

Julia Simms 7:50 AM  

As I noted yesterday, Monday and Tuesday puzzles tend to be very simple. Boring, not very creative or innovative, unchallenging, etc. It always surprises me that Rex hasn't come to accept this.

Billy C 7:58 AM  

Clue for BRO should have been "guy like evil doug," since he sees the commentariat here as a frat. I agree that this is quite APRAPOS for the regulars here. I am not sure that posting one's take, or one's digressions, on a crossword puzzle makes you a risk-taking hero, but it seems those in the fraternity feel otherwise. "placing their souls up for public scrutiny" sounds a tad over-dramatic and self-important to me, but as one who couldn't get through rush week, I suppose I wouldn't understand.

Glimmerglass 7:58 AM  

If Rex were at the plate, looking for a chance to slam Will Shortz, this puzzle is the equivalent of a hanging curve -- just too easy to hit out of the park. Rex's comments are spot on. It's interesting that PHONE PRANK includes PORK, as "Porky's" contains one of the classic examples of the genre ("Mike Hunt? Has anyone seen Mike Hunt?"). LAPP, as I learned in Norway a few years ago, is considered a pejorative by the Sami people, whom I learned in school were called Lapps. LAPP means "rag" or a person who lives in rags. It's a little like calling an Iraqi or an Afghan "raghead." Diary of a Crossword Fiend points out that this slur could have easily been fixed.

Anonymous 7:59 AM  

@Rex, why don't you tell us what you REALLY think about the puzzle?!

jberg 8:00 AM  

Wasn't there a NABOB on Sunday, as well? Or did we skip a day somewhere? Anyway, I always like the Agnew memories it brings back -- awful as he was, he was more articulate than Mr. Trump.

This puzzle would have been fine without the circles. They are not needed once you have the revealer, and as @Rex says, they make it too simple.

I think I wrote two or three papers on Congolese politics as a grad student, and there was once (maybe still is) a state/province called "Ubangi-Uele," so that was a gimme for me. You never know what will come in handy. I also used to drive through ND a couple of times a year, so I know all the cities near the interstate -- Grand Forks, Fargo, Jamestown, and MINOT. Also New Salem, where the world's largest holstein is.

But SMIT? I guess it really is a former usage, but really. At least it's followed by SCAT.

@Ellen S, my wife does jigsaws and I do crosswords. Lucky for me she doesn't read this blog!

AliasZ 8:04 AM  

We have been overrun by NABOBs of late, nattering or otherwise, haven't we?

NABOB appeared 95 times in NYT puzzles since 1951, SMIT 91 times. SMIT usage has declined precipitously in the Shortz era to 14 times, used three times each by Mel Taub and yes, Patrick Berry himself, since 1995. Curious.

On the other hand, OHTO (41 times) paints the constructor into a corner because it can be clued only one way. All 41 times it's been clued exactly as today. We could try "___ be young and rich..." but I don't think anyone of significance had immortalized this particular phrase. However, not once were OHTO and ONEA (230 appearances) used by Patrick Berry -- not that it matters. [Information courtesy xwordinfo.]

What I am saying, why pick on poor Jimmy?

This was a decent, if not sparkling, puzzle. I did enjoy the theme almost as much as a PULLED PORK sand wedge washed down with a nice, cold STROH'S. On the other hand, OHTO, ONEA, EBOOK, SOLO after flewSOLO and goSOLO so recently, UELE, CEE, TSK and a few others put a damper on my enthusiasm, but not overwhelmingly so.

A good Tuesday puzzle, whichever way I look at it.

If you are in NYC, try to stay dry today.

Lewis 8:10 AM  

Factoid: In 2004, a party YACHT tipped over when the passengers all moved to one side of the boat as it passed a nude beach (Hippie Hollow) in Austin, Texas.

Quotoid: "I've searched ALL the parks in all the cities and found no statues of committees." -- Gilbert K. Chesterton

Mohair Sam 8:18 AM  

Much as ofl, I didn't care for this puzzle an awful lot. But I think he went a tad overboard (as in "a tad outside" in the movie "Major League") in his criticism.

"The grid is devoid of . . . contemporary fill" - Well all these are very 21st century:

3. A Lebron clue
4. A Simpsons clue
5. "N" from Sue Grafton

They more than balance SMIT, SCAT (which is fine except for the hideous clue), NABOB, and SKEE).

But overall I'm with @Rex, terrible fill - and after one themer you've filled the P-O-R-K's and PULLEDPORK, and had no fun.

Z 8:24 AM  

First, This. Just too funny.

Second, Rex asked last night for one of his minions to moderate today because he didn't want to revisit this puzzle at all. I'm guessing someone finally stepped up.

Third, @jae - Northern Ohio and Southern Ohio are pretty. The construction zone in between drives me batty every time I have to drive through it. Worse - The police heavily patrol this slice of boredom so one cannot even speed through it.

Fourth - @Mr. Baxter - I believe those blog headers are tags that help google and other search engines direct cheaters* to the blog. Put "goo goo eyed old style" in your search engine and Rex pops up as the first hit.

Fifth - @Mr. Baxter again - I still don't get how speed solvers do it (I've hit my wall at around 6 minutes on a Monday), but my advice is to keep at it. I still remember that feeling of the first Saturday that was in my wheelhouse. Boom! Felt great. Your -Ese vocab expands with practice. Things like @LMS CEE clues no longer fool you with practice. The ability to pull out perfectly reasonable wrong answers increases with practice. Also, reading these comments will help, especially tales of where we went wrong. There is a lot of learning to be learnt from our mistakes.

Sixth - I find it kind of annoying that the email follow-ups appear in reverse chronological order. Most of the time this doesn't matter since they appear more or less than together, but I am irked nonetheless.

*QTIP - I'm joking.

joho 8:29 AM  

Jeez, poor Jay and Daniel probably came here to see what kind of review they got and ended up being the perpetrators of the PULLEDPORK Plot signaling the demise of the New York Time crossword puzzle!

What @Rex's rant is really all about is his dislike of one certain Editor-In-Chief, no? I don't agree with his assessment but it's a free country, right? We all have the right to our opinions and the freedom to express them. That's a good thing.

LOINS is a nice start to a puzzle about PORK!

CRude before CRASS and Hemen to HunkS to HULKS.

I liked the current clue for UBER.

OK, maybe the fill doesn't sparkle but the reveal is cute and the theme answers are fine. I liked PHONEPRANK and PUSHYOURLUCK the best.

Thanks Jay & Daniel!

Dorothy Biggs 8:30 AM  

I guess I'm just beginning to think that the problem here is one of personality. Every now and then I'll do someone else's puzzle, usually BEQ, but yesterday I did the Washington Post puzzle. It is a very different puzzle. It was much more difficult, not because there were words I didn't know, but the cluing is different. The NYT isms that we all know and love (or hate) aren't there.

Face it, doing the NYT can be routine...and it's routine because it's personality is pretty consistent. I think it's a matter of preference that you either really like the NYT as is or you don't. You can't like everyone in the world and not everyone will like you. So I'm speculating that much of what Rex is reacting to is just the personality of the NYT puzzle...especially coming off of the recent tournament where he probably met some far sexier puzzles than the marmish NYT. Hey, some people like the marmish quality. I find it comforting since I've been doing it daily for a very long time...but meeting other, puzzles...can be eye opening.

In The Pirates of Penzance Freddy, who just turned 21, leaves the pirate gang and goes out and sees a bunch of maidens frolicking on the shore. The only girl Freddy knows of is his marmish nanny. He is immediately struck with the possibilities. The xword nanny of all nannies, the NYT xword puzzle, is nice, warm, predictable, and familiar. But I'll agree with Rex, they are no longer the only game in town and there are far better looking maidens frolicking about on the xword shore.

Not that there's anything wrong with being familiar and comfortable...but sometimes you just need to get out and meet new people. If the Times isn't going to evolve, eventually they'll see the effects.

But as Rex himself said, different strokes for different folks.

RooMonster 8:42 AM  

Hey All !
NABOB is getting popular! I see our old friend ECRU is back, missed that. UELE a WOE. Especially on a Tuesday. Theme pretty cool, although agree that once I got the revealer, filled in the circles. Course, nothing wrong IMO about getting a little help!

Got somewhat stuck in the little NW corner. LOINS was not coming into the ole brain! LAPP and PAN also took a second. No idea why...

Not sure why Rex is PINning this puzs EARS BACK so much. Sure, not the best fill, but seems normalish for a TuesPuz. Or is that why he is railing, saying the NYTX is going down in standards? I dunno, I still enjoy doing them!

Some good words in here, OLD HAT, BYLINE, APROPOS, ILL BE. So, overall, hit the spot for a Tuesday.


Generic Solver 8:52 AM  

I liked this puzzle for porcine-al reasons.

aging soprano 8:53 AM  

Thus puzzle was not Kosher. What is PULLED PORK, anyway? At least I have heard of PORK LOINS. CARNE also fit the theme, I guess.
I did not enjoy doing this puzzle at ALL, and agree with our blog master that 15A was the best clue.
Recently reading all the commandments in the Old Testament and wondering if one could call Deuteronomy an Ancient LISTICLE.

Mike D 9:13 AM  

What's funny about the Buzzfeed puzzle is that if it had been published in The Times, Rex would have said "it was trying too hard to be hip." Just sayin'.

Nancy 9:22 AM  

BACK FROM THE LOLLAPUZZOOLA WARS (For those of you who received my email, you can skip this; and for those of you solving at home, there are no spoilers.)

I already told you that Bob Kerfuffle was immensely helpful to me, even saving a place for me at his table. But what a table! Brad Wilbur, constructor and solving pro, was at it, and everyone else there seemed to be a speed solver. I had planned to be on the bunny slope and here I was on the Black Diamond course.

Puzzle #1 had the theme of "STOP". The organizers had this inspired idea: We were to put down our pens and STOP whenever an alarm went off, then continue when a bell sounded. The alarm was an earsplitting, hideous buzzer. It went off, oh, maybe once every 4 seconds. Every time it did, I jackknifed out of my chair, thrust my fingers into my ears, but never of course in time to avoid the noise. It was an easy puzzle, but I didn't come close to finishing it. I almost ran screaming out of the tournament right then and there.

Heart still racing, nerves still jangled, I looked down at Puzzle #2. It was a British-type puzzle with bold lines rather than black squares, except for a vertical row of black squares down the center. The instructions said something about Math. It was about Math, only it WASN'T about Math. I have no idea what was going on. I filled in 15% of the puzzle, most of it wrong, I'm quite sure.

As Puzzle #3 was set down in front of us, Patrick Blindauer apologized to the room for Puzzle #2. #3 was long but doable and I did it. It took me the full 40 minutes allotted to this puzzle. Most of the people in the room had turned it in at least 15 minutes ago. (To be continued...)

Carola 9:30 AM  

In retirement, I seem to have been transformed from a tough grader to an easy one. I thought the theme was cute and admired how the PORK was pulled from one edge of the answer to the other. I also liked the misdirect of LOINS, as PULLED PORK should be made not with them but with the shoulder (just kidding - about the misdirect, not the shoulder), and theme-related CARNE.

I'll defend SMIT based on its proximity to ASCOT and TEAS - picturing some gentleman wooer in a 19th c. novel.

Agree with @Rex about NABOB, but at least it crosses with YACHT.

@loren - I agree with you entirely about ONES and also loved the pulled NOSE!

Ludyjynn 9:31 AM  

I imagine that the constructors named in this puzzle's BYLINE think Rex is a MEANY for his UBER-critical remarks. POBOYs; think of Rex as OSHA, swooping in to do an on site inspection of your OLDHAT clues and (TSK, TSK) finding them wanting. And WS, this PAN's for you, too (SOB)! "How does it feel"? (one of the better clues, IMO)

@Teedmn, thanks for your Chesapeake CRAB jacket link late yesterday. I'm still smiling because it exemplifies our area's
nuttiness for ICONS, including, of course, the ORIOLES.

@MrBaxter, I feel your pain re hitting a puzzle solving plateau. As a relative newbie, myself, all I can say is keep doing the harder puzzles and sooner or later, you'll (usually) jump the hurdles. The agony and the ecstacy for me is when I solve a toughie, but the next one seems impossible. That's where Rex and the commentariat are of invaluable help. Keep on plugging along, BRO.

(Dare I say) thanks, JK, DK and WS.

Hartley70 9:41 AM  

Mmmm PULLED P O R K! It went down easily with meat so tender you didn't need teeth to chew. Great in a sandwich, perhaps not so great in a NYT puzzle.

My favorite answer was the much maligned SMIT. I had to stop and think and then imagine saying it. Too funny in polite company.

@'mericans, your golf story was your most entertaining to date. I'm still trying to decide if it was entirely a figment of your imagination.

@Andrea, I'm not sure why UNO momentous offended you. Was it merely the easy fill or was there a deeper problem?

@LMS, I think you need to write Santa a letter this year. Somehow throwing knives lack that ineffable Christmas spirit. May I suggest something from Neiman-Marcus? The box alone elicits such joy!

Charles Flaster 9:42 AM  

EZ and very sussable.
Liked cluing-- CHORUS and TEAS.
Ease--UELE and ECRU.
Thanks JK and DK.

mathgent 9:43 AM  

I liked APROPOS. I just learned the origin of the word, a two-word French phrase which I've already forgotten.

Even though it is frequently in crosswords, OLEO today brought back a memory from my childhood. During the war (around 1940), butter was scarce. When it was available, it was rationed. Red penny-sized tokens were required, the same tokens which were required to buy meat. My mother would buy oleomargarine to use with our nightly loaf of French bread. It would come in a one-pound block of white with a thumb-sized packet of yellow coloring. My mother taught me to tear open the packet, combine it with the oleo, and knead it into a butter-looking loaf. We thought that it tasted fine.

An okay Tuesday for me.

Nancy 9:45 AM  

(LOLLAPUZZOOLA cont.) Absolutely exhausted, I had decided not to come back for the afternoon session. So, at a delightful lunch with Bob K, Tita and Randy, I ordered a vodka martini. What appeared was the largest vodka martini that I have ever seen. I drank it all. And I felt better. So much better, in fact, that I decided to come back for the p.m. session. "I can't do any worse than I did BEFORE I had the martini," I declared. And indeed, I couldn't.

Puzzle #4 was a meta-puzzle for each table, consisting of 8 parts, none of them crosswords. Bob invited me to solve one with him, we found one that we could actually understand (out of the 8), and we completed it fairly easily. I performed well on that one, actually.

Then came a wordplay game where you had to create a pun on a popular song, based on a sung clue. The organizers were the singers. None was Frank Sinatra. I couldn't figure out the puns because I didn't know the songs; they were all pop songs, not from my era. I didn't raise my hand once.

When Puzzle #5 was put in front of me, I almost burst into tears. I CANNOT DO ONE MORE PUZZLE TODAY IN THIS CROWDED ROOM WITH ALL ITS MANY DISTRACTIONS I thought. So I said goodbye to my new lunch friends and got up to leave. Bob was kind enough to thrust Puzzle #5 into my hand as I was leaving.

I solved Puzzle #5 the following day on a glorious day in Central Park, up near the Reservoir, in the shade of a huge elm tree, with the breeze in my face. There was nary a soul anywhere near me. It was a Kevin Der puzzle, a great puzzle, a very difficult puzzle, but a fun puzzle. I enjoyed every minute of my very relaxed and leisurely solving experience. And thus I got back what had been sorely missing from my tournament experience. Real pleasure. Joy, even. And this, I feel, is how crossword puzzles truly were meant to be solved.

L 9:47 AM  

I didn't hate the puzzle, but PHONE PRANK? Really? When I was a kid, we made PRANK CALLS. I once said UNO MOMENTO and got a lot of grief. I think the NYT could do better on that front.
But fantastic Simpsons prank call clip!

evil doug 9:51 AM  

KRAMER: So, how you feeling?

FRANK: Tired.

KRAMER: Uh huh. Your back hurt?

FRANK: How did you know?

KRAMER: Well, it's obvious, you know. You're carrying a lot of extra baggage up

FRANK: (looks down, and indicates his chest) Up here?

KRAMER: Oh, yeah. Top floor. (sits beside Frank) Listen, Frank, have you ever
considered wearing something for support? Now, look at this. (reaches into his
pocket) Mind you, this is just a prototype.

(Kramer brings out a garment constructed of canvas and elasticated fabric.)

FRANK: You want me to wear a bra?!

KRAMER: No, no. A bra is for ladies.

(Kramer holds the garment up to his own chest.)

KRAMER: Meet the "Bro".

quilter1 9:56 AM  

This puzzle was challenging for me because my printer is low on ink this morning so I did it without some clues. Guess what? No problem. Easy and not too interesting. Off to Staples.

pmdm 9:58 AM  

I think wreck has a point. It was easy to figure out the theme, and once you did I felt the theme answers were a bit too easy to get. But I suppose that would not be the case for novices. And they deserve have some puzzles thrown at them. I'd like to read a write-up of todays puzzle by a true novice. If I have a gripe, it's that I felt the puzzle should have been published on a Monday rather than a Tuesday.

I would point Mr. Baxter to the NY Times crossword blog Wordplay. It has a link to Mr. Shortz's suggestions on how to solve a crossword. Getting better with proper names helps. Harder puzzle clues can be devious. Getting a feel for how a clue misdirects is helpful. Keep trying, and good luck.

And I would echo Steve J's evaluation. Certainly not good. But really not that bad. In other words, a Typically Tuesday reaction.

joho 10:18 AM  

@Nancy, LOL ... wonderful description of your tournament experience!

Leapfinger 10:28 AM  

@Mr Baxter, so pleased you made an appearance! My avatar shares your name. Sans the 'Mr'.

For starters, have to admit that when I was 4 yo, I had an ongoing narrative in which I was the Queen of LAPP PAN, so that was Resonation #1 and put me in good-mood mode. {I can't say whether I knew about the rhyming country of Japan at that time.]

I always like something that LOINS me something, and the LOINS-PORK proximity was pretty cute, esp right above the PAN; that was Resonation #2,

inre ASCOT: I think another answer for 'Fancy tie' is 'Marriage'; tried it once, didn't like it. YMMV, but that made #3.

Agree that the circles telegraphed a fill-in-the-circles fest, but this IS Tuesday. I was more surprised to see a blatantly tref/halal (haha, @'mericans) theme, and hadn't thought ye olde PULLED PORK that obvious an entity outside the southern regions.

Maybe the theme would have gotten more love had it played on BACK SOON, cuz everyone loves BACON TO BITS. We could have had 6 degrees of separation from Sir Francis, and worked in the Smithfield LAGOONS of eastern NC.

@Lewis would have had a ready-made factoid: As the world's third-largest pork exporter (1.15 billion kilos), Canada annually ships the equivalent of one thick pork chop or five slices of bacon for every human being on the planet.

The possibilities are endless.

The 'other white meat'? That's pure racism. PEON the MEANY. We YACHT to do better than that!

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

The correct phrase, at least in Spanish, is "un momento" not "uno". can't believe that got past anybody!

old timer 10:41 AM  

For any of you who had anything nice to say about this puzzle, I have one word for you: UELE. Does not belong in a Tuesday puzzle. Does not belong at all in a puzzle. This pile of ordure wasted 15 minutes of my life (and I expect any Tuesday to be under 10 minutes), The cluing was awful, and unnecessarily awful. POI is not what comes to mind with roast pork, and could easily have been "Luau side dish" instead. UNO could have been clued dozens of ways that do not make anyone familiar with Spanish cringe (yes, we Americans do sometimes say UNO momento, but it's "un momento" in Spanish). The clue for CHORUS is wrong, because Dylan was not writing a traditional verse/chorus song (I think you could maybe call it a "refrain" but the point is, there are thousands of clues for CHORUS that would not stop the solving flow of a Tuesday). I feel the same way about OLEO -- "I can't believe it's not butter" refers to a particular brand, not the entire universe of oleomargarines.

UELE aside, this puzzle needed editing, and whoever edited this one was asleep at the switch, fell down on the job, or worse yet, simply did not give a damn.

George Barany 10:46 AM  

Full disclosure, this puzzle's co-constructors, @Jay Kaskel and @Dan Kantor, are valued members of the Minnesota crossword constructing community, for whom (as for many of us) creating puzzles is a hobby to complement rewarding and demanding day jobs. Click on the links for brief biosketches and photos.

As others have already commented, this is the second consecutive day that NABOB appears in the fill, and third time this year. Yet, of the 31 total @Shortz era usages (information courtesy of, this is the first time that the clue refers to the memorable phrase uttered by Vice President Spiro Agnew, yet actually penned by the great William Safire. More about "nattering nabobs of negativism" can be found by clicking here.

Great comment by @aging soprano about kosher, and listicle.

Finally, thanks to @Rex, and everyone else who is involved in moderating this blog ... the atmosphere has improved immeasurably.

George Barany 10:50 AM  

Quick post-script to my comment from a few minutes ago. After I posted Jay Kaskel's biosketch on my website, the tracking tools revealed some difficult-to-explain visitors from a certain porn site. I consulted with some of my computer-savvy friends, and we finally figured out what did it: Note that Jay created a commercial for Super Bowl 30 (for purposes of this post, I am giving the number in Arabic, but surely you can figure out what it is as a Roman numeral). Case solved!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:53 AM  

Anything I had to say about the puzzle has already been said.

But - @mathgent, 9:43 AM - Your memories of OLEO remind me that during my childhood (a little later than yours, say 5 - 10 years after the end of WWII), a woman I knew, our upstairs tenant, often complained, still bitterly, that during the war or shortly after, the US had shipped real butter to the people of the Soviet Union, who received so much of it that they didn't know what to do with it and used it as shoe polish! (Whether this story is true, half-true, or a total myth, I have no idea!)

Joseph Michael 11:22 AM  

Well, I'LL BE. Didn't hate the puzzle as much as Rex, but would have preferred it without the circles which made it way too easy and repetitive.

Theme itself was OK except for the inelegant mix of "ONE'S" EARS (third person) and "YOUR" LUCK (second person). Puzzle also had one too many PINs.

Favorite themer: PLYMOUTH ROCK. Didn't know there was PORK inside it.

Hartley70 11:25 AM  

Un momento. No hablo espanol. Obviously.

Master Melvin 11:46 AM  

I think an Erster POBOY is much better than a PULLED PORK sandwich.

The first time I saw PLYMOUTH ROCK I was really disappointed. I expected something big enough for the settlers to step onto as they disembarked. Granted it's been chipped away over the centuries but it's just a smallish rock sitting in some kind of gazebo-like structure. PLYMOUTH is a nice pleasure boat cruising port, however.

Nancy 11:53 AM  

@Ellen S. (2:07 a.m.)-- I too own and enjoy the NY Times Crossword collections. I save these puzzles for the days when the daily puzzle presents no challenge and takes no time. Today is such a day. I didn't hate it as much as Rex did, but it was very blah. Since it's teeming in NYC right now AND I just came down with a cold last night(Can anyone guess where I might have caught it?), I will do one of my book puzzles now. Like you, I see the quality of the collections as very high.

@Billy C. (7:58 a.m.) -- I agree with your trenchant and quite amusing comment. Yes, there are brave people in this world who are prepared to take enormous personal risks and, no, Rexworld bloggers are not among them. There's not a scintilla of risk for any of us. It's more like an indulgence, if truth be told. A perfectly pleasant and benign indulgence, but an indulgence nonetheless.

@lms -- So glad to hear you won't be throwing any more knives. Whew! (But if memory serves, you do arm wrestle. Don't you?)

@joho -- Thanks for your comment,

'mericans in Paris 11:54 AM  

@ Leapy, old timer, Aketi, and Hartley70: thanks for the positive feedback on the Matt Esquare story (Sunday) and the mini-story yesterday.

@ Leapy: happy belated birthday!

In answer to @Leap's Sunday question ("I'm not sure why, but he [Matt Esquare] always seems to come in two parts"), that's because there is a character limit on postings, which seems to be around 2,000. In order to construct a continuing, serialized story, and include as many puzzle answers as possible, there have to be a lot of additional words to make the story somewhat sensible. If that bothers some people, they can skip over it, no?

When I do a shorter one based on answers to a 17 x 17 grid, I am less constrained and can usually fit a micro-story in one posting. Yesterday's was 450 words, not thousands. I see many other postings that are that long.

Also, you may notice that I only comment on the slashes in Rex's (or his substitute's) write-ups. I would not dare, nor feel it appropriate, to criticize on its use by fellow posters. Sad, though, that some people seem to get their rocks off by using a slash and bringing it to my attention. (@Evil: risk/reward is a ratio, and one that has a long history of use, so you failed to get a rise.) Also sad that some commentators, despite the moderating, feel it necessary to use phrases addressed to other commentators, who have showed them no ill, such as "eat me" or to refer to them as "morons". Pathetic.

Martel Moopsbane 12:15 PM  

@George Barany - Based on your post, I guess puzzles should avoid the clue "winning tic-tac-toe line?" if the answer isn't OOO.

I also think it's fair to say that Rex was not with this puzzle SMIT.

Z 12:17 PM  

@Nancy - I read @Billy C's comment and immediately thought of this. Seriously, though, I think @Evil's point is well taken. Sure, it's not the same as protesting in Ferguson or serving in the military, but putting your opinion out there opens one up to criticism. Need proof? "I am genuinely tired of pointing this stuff out, but since most puzzle professionals won't say a damned thing publicly about how poorly conceived and edited the NYT puzzles can be of late, I'm kind of on my own here (although privately any constructor or editor worth his/her salt will tell you exactly what's wrong with this puzzle, exactly what could be easily changed, exactly where the wincing happens, etc.—you can probably do same)."

@George Barany - I'm not qualified to comment on Rex's assertion that "any constructor will tell you...exactly what could be easily changed," but I am curious what constructors here would do with the SMIT and UELE areas.

Tom 12:21 PM  

Like many crossword puzzles, the NYTX relies too frequently on Spanish (which it doesn't even get right, today) and French for fill. Seriously, it's time to open up to the 21st century. The editor might claim the use of African rivers represents multicultural diversity - I hope he doesn't, for that would be serious bull.

michael 12:27 PM  

I really paused with "uno momento." I kept thinking that this can't be right. I've heard "un momento" many times and can't ever recall "uno moment." Weird. Perhaps a native speaker of Spanish will have more to say.

Elaine Benes 12:35 PM  

More relevant Seinfeld (in support of UNO momento):

George: It's not my fault! I wasn't going to do anything until you got her
all juiced up with your story about having the affair with the matador!

Elaine: Oh Gosh! None of this would never have happened if you wouldn't have
said 'God bless you'!

George: Oh don't-

(Jerry raises his arms)
Jerry: Hold it! Hold it! Hold it people! Matador? What matador?

George: She told this couple she had an affair with a matador.

Jerry: A matador! Well, well, well. UNO momento por favor. Pray tell, what
was the young man's name?

Elaine: Uh, Eduardo, uh, Carochio.

(Jerry uses hand towel to mimic matador)
Jerry: Eduardo, Carochio! That's good. That's very good. Kind of just rolls
of the tongue. I wonder where on the upper west side a single girl might
meet a matador? Perhaps Zabars? Or Ray's Pizza!

Masked and Anonymous 12:36 PM  

@009 (Should I still be callin U that?) -- har. Good mornin to U, 2, Sunshine.

* Pork.
* 6 U's.
* Pork.
* 19 weeject candidates: Most interstin mix since Trump got in the race. None of them are head-and-shoulders up there in desperation, so I'll just go with PLO. PLO looks like it needs to buy a consonant.
Or be crossed ref-ed with BRO in this sorta clue: {With 46-A: John Deere righteous buddy??}
* Pork.
* Tinge of tasty desperation. That there feature should not be underestimated, as a crowd-pleaser, for the weird 1% of crossword solvers. Behold the commentary on SMIT alone, per examplo.
* Pork.
* Flatulent pig to @009: "Pull my pork's mitt!"

* Two constructioneers. If U do something (marvelously) desperate in yer half of the fill, the other collab dude might me hesitant to say "Rex will string yer hide up and tan it, over that there corner!" cuz it might hurt yer feelins. That is why M&A won't collab on a big puz: his feelins are eazy-ely hurt; and few ask, of course …

Thanx, for all the fun, K&K!



Gerrythek 12:38 PM  

I enjoy Rex's comments as entertainment but usually find him to be a grouch as if he got up on the wrong side of the bed and immediately wrote the blog. Not today! This puzzle is terrible, a blot on my morning routine. This was something I might find on the back of one of those free car finder handouts. Yuck!

Nancy 12:40 PM  

@Z: (12:17) A great line, wonderfully delivered by the incomparable Sarandon, very APROPOS to the discussion at hand, and from one of my favorite movies of all time. And it's so true.

Mike D. 1:10 PM  

As Elaine demonstrated out above, "UNO momento" has become a common jokey colloquialism for "hold on a sec." Maybe not clever, and definitely not correct Spanish, but common enough to qualify as a legit crossword clue IMHO.

Elephant's Child 1:16 PM  

All right, so it isn't MINOT, but it is South Dakota. If the puzzle left you unsatisfied, and you're willing to drag this address to a new tab, I promise Dave Barry will improve your mood.

Tita 1:30 PM  

When in Rome, per piacere...UNO momento!
As usual, if you think the nytx is wrong, see Rex's FAQ #16.

I did think the theme was way lame. But I thought the fill was fine...not really worse a pileup than other days.

We made crank calls. Yes, they were PHONEPRANKS.

Love clue for SOS!!!

Thanks, Mssrs. K&K.

Archambeau 1:37 PM  

I'd like to applaud the comment-writer above who pointed out the offensiveness of the term "Lapp." I wish the editors would reconsider the clue "reindeer herder" and the answer "Lapp." Not only do the Scandinavian indigenous people consider "Lapp" an offensive term (everyone over there calls them the "Sami" people), but it's sort of an offensive characterization, too. I kind of want to make an analogy involving one American ethnic slur or another, along with a definition of those people using some stereotyped activity associated with them, but can't quite bring myself to do it without feeling as ashamed of myself as the people at the NY Times should feel right now.

Jamie C 1:38 PM  

The people on this comment board are my only friends. I love each and every one of you. Without you, I would have no reason to get up in the morning. I think of you while I'm walking in Central Park, doing jujitsu, flying my plane, playing ultimate, having brunch, going to crossword tournaments, drinking beer or whiskey or vodka or lager or cider, or traveling the world, and after all of these activities I simply can't wait to get back here and tell you all about my experiences, then I click refresh until I see your heartfelt, witty, and genuine replies. A million thanks to Rex for creating a safe space for our little crossword klatch!

Unknown 1:39 PM  

No matter how often UNO MOMENTO is used is popular culture, it's still wrong and has no place in a crossword as a "legitimate" entry. It's downright stupid. Pretty much like most of this puzzle.

Mike D. 1:40 PM  

But @ Gary, therein lies the problem. When he's grouchy every day, it is hard to appreciate his comments when the puzzle, like today's pile of steaming horse crap, is truly awful.

Lewis 1:40 PM  

@z -- A quick way to get rid of SMIT is to change it to SMUT and change TEAS to TESS.

Name that tune 1:41 PM  

@Elaine Benes--nice find on the second APRAPOS Seinfeld quote! Very impressive.

Billie C 2:00 PM  

+1 wreck @ 12:40am.

I wonder if a competitor (hello, WSJ?) would do well to make Monday the hardest puzzle of the week? Or maybe random difficulty each day? Everyone who's bored with The Times, and @Rex's rants about The Times (and its editor), would flock to said puzzle and rave about how much better it is!

evil doug 2:20 PM  

Actually, frenchie, you have a history of taking on all comers with your self-proclaimed demands on punctuation requirements. I encourage everyone to check out the blog on 10/26/2014--you can find it if you google "Rex crossword shut up frenchie"--a day when you established a modern record with *eleven* scintillating posts, Paris! It's a fun read! One of my favorite days ever!

Yes, we can (and I do) skim past your tired Matt drones. That you can boast that yesterday's was "only 450 words long" speaks (literally? almost!) volumes. But with that skipping-over logic why should *anything* be pre-emptively self-policed out of the blog? Michael expects us to be reasonable in keeping with his desired discussion. For example, he intimated that he'd like a daily quiz feature to be eliminated, without ordering it to be done. Lewis, to his credit, understood Michael's rationale and promptly complied. You apparently have several folks who enjoy your Esquare stuff, so why not exchange e-mail addresses with them and provide that service off-blog? You get to practice your slash-free writing skills, and they get to subscribe to their favorite adventurer! Win/win!

And while I enjoy 'getting my rocks off' regularly, I assure you you're not the source of that pleasure. Still, I'm amused that someone who's offended by my use of the joking 'eat me' elected to go with that phrase....

Bart Simpson 2:34 PM  

Call for Yuri Nater. Yuri Nater?! Is Yuri Nater here?

Masked and Anonymous 2:38 PM  

For Anyone Who Just Cannot Tolerate Some Good SMITtin…

M&A, the dude who fills grids so smoothly, he has plumb bought out the gum eraser section at the local Staples store, has this suggestion: Dump the STROHS; replace with TORAHS. This is hideous news to a handful of beer fans, but great news for yer ancient scroll collectors. Also, then you get this kinda fill:

6. Hit the Strohs hard [softens the blow, for them beer fans]
15. Squished but still round-shaped
21. ___-shaped

6. Shedload of scrolls
7. Birds have only one out of two that works right
8. Gently criticize, as Rex with a TuesPuz review
9. Magnificently horny beast

M&A Help Desk.

Leapfinger 2:50 PM  

Can't say I see an issue. Best I can tell 'uno momento' isn't passing itself off as Spanish, it's plainly Spanglish. Perhaps an awareness of Yinglish has sensitized me to that kind of difference. I realized this may not soothe some roiled feelings.

'The world was made for people not cursed with self-awareness'. Sounds good and maybe even deep, but what does it mean (au fond)? If you don't have self-awareness, what kind of awareness are you left with? Reaction to external stimuli, heat, cold and pain? 'Self'-awareness is almost all an infant is born with, and it seems to me there may be people who never grow far beyond that.

@Z, that bit where you described advanced crossword critiquers, and cited 'everyone else' as being satisfied Trumpophiliacs... I view myself among the 'everyone else', and don't agree that the ability to dissect the guts and bones of a xwp is the only entree to any form of critical thinking.

@jberg, interesting to loin that you wrote papers on the Congo. I wrote one comparing the response to the AIDS epidemic in Zaire and Cuba, largely a function of how Mobutu and Castro ran (or didn't run) their respective states. That, at least, was this student's conclusion. Turned out to be one way to know UELE. You read about it, Ubangit out.

3 and out.

Miss Smitten 3:16 PM  

@Davis, do you have Prince Albert in a can?

@M&A, por ejemPLO, Ham_as PORK

Someone got their ASCOT in the wringer. How can you love a clue steeped in tradition, but despise a grid steeped in same? It's a veritable imBRO_OLEO.

GILL I. 3:20 PM  

I'm loving everything about today....Starting with @Rex's comment! I've never really thought about the crafting and love a NYT Tuesday puzzle should elicit, but why not??? I believe @Rex is right in that the NYT standards have been slipping and sliding down that golden path. He seems to be the only one not afraid to say so...and he's right! Plus his comments are funny.
@Andrea UNO momento made me want to pull all my teeth out, rip off my clothes and run down hwy 5 all the way to Bakersfield....
PULLED PORK and POI...what can I add?
Drink STROHS, it'll put hair on you chest.

dick swart 3:47 PM  

"Relative difficulty: Dunno. I had to stop several times to let the rage subside." ... Rex at the head of the column.

Rex, if you have gotten to this state, you have pushed yourself too far.

"Rage" is a powerful emotion usually applied to a situation with which some one else can empathize.

A crossword on a Tuesday is not such a situation.

Perhaps you should file later to let the gastric juices settle down and to be able to put the crossword in its' proper perspective to the world.

Elephant's Child 4:59 PM  

My apologies, MINOT. What with Soho/ Noho, followed by SoCal, NoCal and LoCal, I seem to have dragged you from North to South Dakota. Atonement is indicated.

GILL I. 5:34 PM  

@Nancy...I seem to be almost a day late when I post....but dang girl, your Lolla adventure had me clapping and urging you on. When you got to the vodka martini, I thought for sure you'd get up on the bridge chair with two cushions and dance a fandango...!
Maybe next year? ;-)

Pete 5:39 PM  

Re: SMIT, and its associated broo-haha. I had a horse named Smitten, I owned her for 24 years until she died this past April; I loved her as much as it's possible to love a critter. When she was six she had a serious bout of colic - I physically held her up for 20 minutes until the vet came with painkillers, as if she had gone down she never would have made it surgery. When she was recovering from surgery and wouldn't eat anything, I drove 1200 miles overnight to get fresh sod from down south, hoping she would eat that. She did, and recovery began. When she was 8 she got her leg caught in a fence and was bleeding to death - I applied pressure to the artery until, once again, the vet finally got there. I could go on and on about the highs and lows of having her, until her last day when she died with her head in my lap.

So yes, SMIT made me think of Smitten, and all the joys she brought me.

Even so, SMIT sucked.

aging soprano 6:01 PM  

That was wonderful to read. Thank you Nancy.

chefbea 6:11 PM  

@Jamie C..I'll raise my scotch...or maybe my beets

Masked and Anonymous 6:14 PM  

@Z: Gettin rid of UELE is a very delicate type of grid surgery.
Rule #1: Do no harm to U-counts.

So, M&A's suggested replacement fill may not be all that great an improvement; but, on the upside, U do get more puzzle to re-solve …

54. It's on the house
63. M&A will love ____ the end of time*
66. Like many crates

47. How cinnamon rolls should always be enjoyed
48. Drift
52. Shape reminiscent of a snake trying to stand at attention
59. Place to get so stiff you don't feel the dart stuck in your arse
60. ___-Aztecan swear word: Llamash**t

M&A Help Desk.
"This Why U See Him So Much in NYTPuzs"

*some poetic license required.

grammar nazi 7:03 PM  

hey @ dicks wart: its will suffice. No apostrophe necessary.

Teedmn 7:52 PM  

@Tita, it looks like you see UNO momento in a language other than Spanish? Perhaps Italian? No one else mentioned your comment and my brief Google search didn't clear it up completely except for a chain of Italian restaurants of that name :-).

@Leapfinger, I have often wondered about the explanation for the cluster of babies born in that last week of July-first two weeks of August. I've heard it attributed to the end of harvest leading to the farmer finally getting some 'rest' but that doesn't account for my non-farming parents...

One CRude writeover at 22D and an even CRuder one at 38D which started as era, then changed to ALL. And my 56D Balls were equal to gRit but I'LL BE, it was wrong.

As a pescatarian, it has been a long time since I've eaten PULLED PORK. I didn't look at what was in the circles during my solve so it wasn't 'too easy' for me - just right for a Tuesday. Thanks JK and DK.

And 'Mericans in Paris, if @Rex doesn't object, I hope you continue your narrative posts

Tita 9:33 PM  

@Teed (my blog twin, according to some)... Yes - the "when in Rome" part was the hint....

@Miss Smitten - I'll see your Prince Albert and raise you one "Is your refrigerator running?..."
Good times.

And the PHONE PRANKS also reminded me of Jon Stewart's masterful unseating of Tucker Carlson and guy who's not Tucker Carlson on CNN many years ago - pointing out in disbelief that they are trying to hold him up to the same journalistic standards Jon was demanding of them. He cut him off saying - "you do know that the show that's on before mine is puppets making crank calls...?".

Hey folks - speaking of pulled P O R K, anyone know of a place in Fairfield/Westchester that has the genuine article? Only place I know of north of the Macon/Dixon is BT's Smokehouse in Sturbridge. They would be sublime even down south. Any other place I've tried up here would never survive there.

chefwen 10:06 PM  

@Evil Doug -Thanks for that trippy trip down memory lane, I remember that day well,

kitshef 11:37 PM  

Geez oh Pete that was awful. MINOT, UELE and SMIT. Prank call, yes. PHONE PRANK, no. PIN ONES EARS BACK makes no sense as clued. "Dig in for a serious effort" would be accurate. [Oh, I can't go on!] - terrible. Who cries "GET on it!?" Nobody, that's who.

On the plus side, STROHS was a nice of college days playing hackeysack and drinking whatever was on special that week.

Also, I thought it played Wednesday or Thursday tough up top. Then you get the theme and the bottom falls out like a Tuesday should.

old timer 11:51 AM  

Was I unfair to criticize "UNO momento"? Could it have really been a reference to a common phrase in Italian?

Sadly, no:

UNO, it seems, is only used before masculine nouns beginning with S or Z followed by another consonant -- maybe you could ask for "uno Sbarro" if you wanted a slice of pizza. So "uno momento" is wrong in two languages, and would not be used in French. I must say I did not look up the phrase in Portuguese or Romanian.

Tita 3:55 PM  

@old timer...I stand corrected! Grazie tanto! My pigeon Italian failed me.
I can, however, assure you that it is not correct in Portuguese, where articles are um and uma.

Anonymous 9:51 PM  

In Portuguese is " um momento".

Anonymous 10:29 PM  

It will be interesting to see how WSJ promotes Scott Walker in its puzzles.

Burma Shave 8:06 AM  


It started as a PHONEPRANK, when you PUSHYOURLUCK toward no real goal,
Who knew she’d STEPUP ATONCE to date this POBOY and make that PLYMOUTHROCK and ROLE.


rondo 9:59 AM  

A puz that starts with LOINS can’t be all bad, just didn’t know they would be of the PORK variety. And then dropped in your LAPP.

UELE agree that answer hurts. OHTO have something different in that area.

CARNE could have been clued as the recently deceased Judy, one-tome sock-it-to-me Laugh In yeah baby.

Spent some time in MOAB, UT in 2012. Great place to enjoy the SW desert nature and raft or kayak on the Colorado River. It’s especially something else if you can make the climb to Delicate Arch. Real and spectacular.

What, no nabob today? Seemed to be a requirement lately. This puz was a ”too staid” Tuesday.

spacecraft 11:32 AM  

For such a crummy puzzle, this has surely engendered lots of print! I found it to be weird. Meeting SMIT and SOCAL and PUSH instead of Press (big money, big money, no whammies...and, STOP!) gave me a "Where am I?" feel--and I hadn't even gotten to UELE yet!

It's jarring to see YOUR in the first theme line, followed by ONES in the next. A little consistency would be nice. Also, there seems to be a flaggable offense here that no one so far has mentioned: PIN appears twice! Well, ILLBE!

Is SOCAL a thing? I guess--if you live there. And now for the universal writeover: don't tell me you didn't write in CRude for "Unrefined." Sure you did.

The whole thing was just...weird. Who DOES say "PHONEPRANK," anyway? I'm going to give it a C, because I don't know what else to give it.

leftcoastTAM 3:36 PM  

Having a quadruple PULLEDPORK sandwich slathered with OLEO followed by a bowl of Chili con CARNE, all ATONCE, didn't set to well with me. [Burp]

Sorta the way I felt about this puzzle.

Anonymous 3:52 PM  

Solution for those Naysayers, and malcontent commenters above:
JUST FORGET ABOUT THE MONDAY AND TUESDAY PUZZLES. START WITH WEDNESDAY. If you are an experienced solver, why bother??? I'm sure there were thousands of people across the Country who enjoyed the cute simplicity of the grid provided by the constructors. I, for one, usually don't do the Mon & Tues puzzles but finished this one before finishing my morning cereal - BTW it was Wheaties and strawberries. I just know you were on tenterhooks to know that. :)

Happy wishes for a good Wed puzzle.

Ron Diego, La Mesa, CA

(Where Amazon is still considered part of South America,Twitter is for the birds, Yahoo is used at rodeos, and a Snapfish is unknown in the angling world).

strayling 7:20 PM  

I liked this one. Some of the clues verged on the cryptic - a good thing - and the puzzle as a whole had the sort of lively, playful feel that I enjoy.

I'm honestly surprised that it isn't getting more love.

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