Uniroyal product / MON 9-21-15 / Layered hairdo / Old Russian autocrats

Monday, September 21, 2015

Constructor: Bruce Haight

Relative difficulty: Medium (i.e. normal Monday difficulty)

THEME: Stupid stuff — two-word phrases where both words start with "S" ... and a lot of them

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: ENOW (2D: Sufficient, to a bard) —
adj. Archaic Enough. (wordnik.com)
• • •

Apparently when you don't have a good idea for a theme, you take a *non* idea and then just shove as many theme answers in as possible. This is mind-hurtingly, befuddlingly, impossibly below what should be NYT standards. First, this isn't a theme. No. Two-word phrases where both words start with "S" ... at best, it's a boring list of things one scratches out on some scrap paper while waiting for a dentist's appointment. If you have to resort to SELL STOCKS, I don't know what to tell you. That's about as tight as SIP SHERRY or *infinite other SS phrases*. I keep looking at this puzzle wondering how it is possible that it came to be published. The theme is not good *and* dense. Who wants dense non-goodness? Further, because of density (I presume...?) the fill is laughably, preposterously, mid-last-century bad—except for CSIS, which is bad in a way that has never been seen before, a kind of bad that could only come out of an age rife with CSIS and (look for it in a puzzle near you soon...) NCISS. All constructors: please add LAWANDORDERS, "plural," to your word lists. You apparently have permission! I want to say "you cannot pluralize a TV show title that way," but I fear I would be stating the obvious. Unfathomably bad. Also, preventable. In that terrible little corner that already has ESAI hiding in it ... man. This is barrel-bottom stuff all around. Head-shaking. CHOO-KOLN bad. OWIE, for real.

What the hell happened with the cluing on SOUL SISTER!?! (32D: Best black female friend) That is so awkwardly and embarrassingly phrased. It's like the clue writer sort of knew it sounded like a black thing but didn't know how to indicate that and so ended up with this clue that sounds like you call your best *black* friend a SOUL SISTER, while you call your best *Asian* friend ... Lisa? I don't know.  I do know that [Best black female friend] is tone deaf, inaccurate, and syntactically botched. Dear lord. Clue it non-racially or ask for some help, because what you've got here induces cringes. Trust me. I've already heard from the cringing.

Phew. I've had ENOW. Good night.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 12:08 AM  

Lots of Haight for Bruce. I'm going over to Jeff Chen's xwordinfo to see what the positive crossword commentator has to say about it and then compare notes. It's become a bit of a parlor game in my home to see whose commentary (Mr. Negative and Mr. Positive) is actually closer to our solving experience.

Unknown 12:17 AM  

I agree that the clue for Soul Sister is very awkward, especially since that was the name of a musical featuring the songs of Ike and Tina Turner. Pretty easy to have a more normal clue.

Anonymous 12:17 AM  

Why not the obvious Train hit (with "Hey")?


chefwen 12:28 AM  

Yup, it's Monday alright. One write-over ENOW over ENOu, I'm not counting that.

I also cringed at SOUL SISTER.

At least the Monday puzzles come out pretty and clean, probably the only one of the week with those results.

Can you believe 'TIS THE SEASON is almost here? YIKES!

The Packer game got off to a SLOW START and there were a few SORE SPOTS, I could hardly SIT STILL throughout, but we came away SEEing STARS. Woo Hoo!

jae 12:48 AM  

Easy Mon. for me.  Kinda liked all the esses, maybe some sort of record...@r.alph?  

Steve J 1:11 AM  

I don't ask for a lot out of Monday puzzles. Give me a reasonably entertaining diversion for 5 minutes, with a theme that makes sense and has an even tenuously interesting hook, and you've done your job.

Sadly, today's puzzle can't even measure up to that low standard. Two words beginning in S is a stupefyingly simplistic "theme". There's no hook there at all, and none of the theme answers has anything interesting going on.

And, yeah, CSIS. Wow.

Also wow (and not in a good way): the clue for 32D. Agreed with Rex. This one was mind-bogglingly awful and cringe-worthy. It all adds up to a spectacularly second-rate puzzle.

Anonymous 1:32 AM  

Wow Rex, After twenty reviews on Diary of a Crossword Fiend this puzzle has one of the highest Monday ratings of the year. I think you're just not a Monday person............

John Child 2:07 AM  

Rex's comments on Mr Haight's June 16, 2014 puzzle with the same theme idea was kinder but similar: "[a] disappointing realization that the theme would just be 'a mess of 'B's' (don't care, not interesting)."

But at least there were no grid tricks (birds, fish, or dogs; kites, pinwheels, or numbers), and all letters of the alphabet were, apparently, allowed. My favorite puzzle by Mr Haight so far.

Charles Flaster 4:27 AM  

Very EZ.Lots of CrosswordEASE.
WACO crossing TACO is my highlight.
Thanks BH

George Barany 5:57 AM  

@Rex, a well-known constructor--who will have to remain anonymous--sent me a private e-mail last night with the subject line SUBSTANDARD, and also pointed me to your twitter feed ... so I had some inkling what would come in today's review. @Bruce Haight does write, at other fora, that this particular theme goes back more than three years, when he was just starting to construct, and includes a SHORT_STORY about the health implications for him. I did appreciate being reminded, with 1-Across, of the baseball team that I have been rooting for since I was about 8 years old.

As most readers of this blog know by now, but it does not hurt to repeat: @Hayley Gold has a new timeline for her acrossanddown.net webcomic. This week's installment, which covers last Thursday's puzzle by @Timothy Polin, posted last night--beautifully timed to coincide with THE_MEEE that were being broadcast on TV.

Congratulations to @Jon Hamm for finally winning Best Actor ... long overdue and I do miss "Mad Men." BTW, JON_HAMM has never appeared in a New York Times crossword puzzle. As for the simpler HAMM, this answer word is usually clued for the female soccer player or the twin male gymnasts, though @Joe Krozel did clue it for the actor about a year and a half ago, and (get this) @Alan Arbesfeld and @Harvey Estes each once clued it as "Eponym of a classic Minnesota-brewed beer." Cheers!

Lewis 6:24 AM  

Mondayish theme is okay by me, and to make them interlock and cross not easy to do. SELL STOCKS may be arbitrary, but the other eleven are solid. Under these conditions, some forced fill can be expected, but the question is: How is the solving experience? For me, it was not memorable, but neither was it boring. it was decent for a Monday, engaged my brain. It got the job done.

Furthermore, there is a SMASHup, a mini-theme of double E's (7), and Jon Stewart will be quite pleased to see the METS on top.

Loren Muse Smith 6:36 AM  

Man oh man oh man. Rex - your enthusiastic hatred for this one surprised me this morning. I figured you'd hate the theme and take issue with a bunch of drek, but, well, you really didn’t care for this one did you?

Twelve themers, y’all. I counted 104 squares devoted to theme. Put that one in your swizzle stick and smoke it! They're interlocking, stacked, interstacked some more, interoverstacklocked… cool.

The Teacher's Glue Axiom - a little dab'll do ya – comes to mind, but since I come down firmly on the Theme side of the eternal Theme/Fill debate, I enjoyed this. I saw the trick very early, but when I really caught on to just how many SS entries there were going to be, I got a kick out of finding them all. In this quest, the CSIS, PCT, ENOW, and TKOS faded into the background.

I agree about SELL STOCKS. And I'll add STEEP SLOPE (slippery SLOPE is more in the language). But since they're both part of triple interlocks, I'll cheerfully forgive them. Alert the presses.

RAVEL could've had a "Bolero" clue, but RAVEL is exactly what these twelve themers are doing.

I liked this one just fine.

Glimmerglass 7:23 AM  

Ah, Rex, my dependable doryphore! I didn't think even you could find so many bad things to say about this innocuous Monday finger exercise.

Dorothy Biggs 7:35 AM  

I missed my fastest Monday time by :20 seconds. Under my average by about 2 minutes. No real challenges at all...just a lot of esses.

There are puzzles that cause me to wince, groan, and flip them off (I'm looking at you, last Saturday's puzzle)...but this one was pretty innocuous. The theme totally escaped my notice as I was doing it...sure I saw the esses...but since the theme never came into play in helping me solve the puzzle, I didn't really look until I was done. My thought at the end..."Hmm. Lots of esses."

So, I definitely didn't hate it the way Rex did. But I definitely skew on the dislike side for BH puzzles. Tricks like these are self-congratulating...kinda like showing someone that you won in solitaire. Yippee! You did it! Can I go back to my oatmeal now?

Dorothy Biggs 7:46 AM  

BTW, I did like the shout out to LOLA. I love that song and how Lola can be, depending on how you look at it, a man or a woman.

All through the song it alludes to Lola's strength and masculinity, true, but she could still be just a stronger than average woman who seduced a young lad who'd never kissed a woman before.

The payoff line of course is: "Well I'm not the world's most masculine man, But I know what I am and I'm glad I'm a man, And so is Lola." It certainly can easily read as Lola is a man just like me. But ingeniously it can also be read that Lola (a woman) is glad that I'm a man too. There is nothing in the song that categorically makes Lola a man. It's really a great song in so many ways.

Also btw, Coca-cola made them change the lyrics to "cherry cola." So the radio version was different than the LP version in that respect.

Dshawmaine 7:54 AM  

About 2/3 through I thought "Rex is going to hate this." When finished I thought "Rex better hate this." I agree with the review completely. And ESAI was insult to injury.

Nikthefin 7:58 AM  

I appreciated being reminded of my grandfather, who used to yell at the newscasters on the BOOB TUBE while waiting for Carson to come on. And thanks to TACO, I can't get the South Park "Taco Taco Taco" song out of my head.

joho 8:01 AM  

Today's theme really is the construction. When finished I circled all thwelve theme answers and marveled at Bruce's ability to pull it off. Well done!

But, especially on an easy Monday puzzle, I look for some wordplay, clever reveal, light and bouncy themers or best of all, a sense of humor.

I didn't get a lot of delight out of SEASALT and a STEEPSLOPE but I did enjoy seeing how Bruce managed to intersect all those theme answers!

RooMonster 8:05 AM  

Hey All !
I wasn't too fond of this puz at first, but then realizing there were twelve (12!) themers jammed into a 15x15 grid, well, I changed my mind. Unbelievably hard to get that many themers in a grid, and only come away with very little dreck. Would have liked to see this clued a bit tougher and run on a Wednesday. Only nit is the god-awful CSIS. Ugh. More-n-likely coulda reworked that section.

A few repeats, ESAI-ESAU, BRAT-ERAT, TACO-WACO, but absolutely willing to overlook that, as they are all common words, and 12 themers! Even with a RRN, clued nicely BTW, didn't bother me. Shoot, he got LISZT in there!

And did I mention, 12 themers? Just sayin.


Questinia 8:09 AM  

Perhaps many would have thought better of this puzzle had one of the clues been: What many of the answers in this puzzle do? HISS

Off to conjugate sibilant in its Latin verb form.

jberg 8:19 AM  

The best part of this puzzle is the crossing WACO TACO. And I kind of like the dead center AAA self-rating. Otherwise, not much. @Loren, I see your point about the intricacy of the interlocking themers -- but that is somewhat lessened when you have such a huge number of possible themers to select from.

@Rex's comment about Sipping Sherry immediately brought to mind the old Boston purveyor of fine foods, S.S. Pierce, whose label of sherry was popular with the local Brahmins. An S.S. theme based on that might have gone somewhere -- but given yesterday's discussion of bad guys, maybe we don't want SS in the puzzle, either.

Unknown 8:31 AM  

CSIS is the Canadian Security Intelligence Service - basically the Canadian version of the CIA. People refer to it by the acronym, pronouncing it SEE-sus. Unfortunately, still too unknowable to be a better clue than multiple CSI shows. Count me in among the cringers at the cluing for SOULSISTER.

Heinrich Himmler 8:53 AM  

@Rex - You've never been so wrong as you are today. This was a beautiful, lovely, inspiring puzzle. Finally a tribute to the SS - I despaired of living long enough to see it.

mathgent 9:00 AM  

@John Child: How did you remember that Mr.Haight used the same theme before? Impressive.

Almost all themes are boring. Remind me why they are so popular. The LAT has even more of them.

The line from the Kinks song reminds me of something I've heard beginning "I'm not a metaphysical man ..." Does that ring a bell with anyone?

That's a long clue for LOLA. How about "She gets what she wants."

Hard to believe that Will and Joel weren't able to come up with a better clue for SOULSISTER.

Zwhatever 9:04 AM  

@LMS - Does alliteration constitute a theme?

No Che or Mao today. I'm disappointed.

In honor of David Cameron, this. I did some things in college that I wouldn't want splashed across the front page, but nothing, nothing, like this. (You haven't heard?. Wait until after breakfast to google).

Unknown 9:07 AM  

So no one posting yet had a problem LISZT and ZENO crossing on a Monday? Cuz it's a Monday. And it's an ancient Greek philosopher and a German composer. Crossing each other. And, again, it's Monday.

chefbea 9:19 AM  

Fun puzzle!!! I agree about the clue for Soul Sister..shoulbe be something else

The aroma coming from my stove is great..better go Stir Stew!!

Sheik Yerbouti 9:29 AM  

I was surprised at how many theme answers were plural or active tense -- i.e., even more S.

Billy C. 9:35 AM  

Yikes, @Rex REALLY didn't like this one.

As for me:

1. I see no problem with a bunch of SS's as a Monday theme. Rex asserts it's not a theme, but for what reason? Because he doesn't like it is all I can guess.

2. CSIs. There were multiple CSI:xxx's, so what the heck is wrong with the plural CSIs? I guess @Rex just doesn't like it is all.

3. Esai. OK I never heard of that. CHOO and OWIE, not seen often, but easily guessable with a couple of crosses. Koln, is it too much to ask that a NYT Xworder would know the German name for the non-German city name Cologne? Overall, these are a stretch on OFL's part to reinforce his central point, IMO.

4. And finally, Soul Sister. I really don't know what to make about his rant on this one. I've seen this several times as a term of endearment or cameraderie among black women. Maybe it's just that @Rex has never seen it, and views it as a racially derogatory term?

Overall, sorry to say, this was the most useless critique of the crossword that I've ever seen @Rex do.

Anonymous 9:38 AM  

32 d should have been clued "best black female friend, in racist lore." I am a black woman, I and I've never considered anyone a "soul sister." It's enough to make me cancel my subscription.

quilter1 9:39 AM  

I rate this one easy and agree with @lms comment. ENOW said.

Leapfinger 9:44 AM  

Hoo boy! From STEM to STAR, this silly simple sweetie sertainly tickled my funnybone. Almost spit stuff with SWEET SWEEP followed summarily with WACO TACO (hi @Chas Flaster). Crossing seudo-rhymes continued with LENO-ZENO, and kinda did with SHAG-WAGS. Sufferin' succotash, how can you not enjoy this SLEEK LISZT of SMASHing syllables that just smelt in your mouth?

As for the SOUL_SISTER clue, I almost believe it was picked because it SETS_AIL for @Rex, just as a runcible spoof, y'know. Things could have been worse, after all. We didn't have the swallows coming back to KAPPA Strano, did we?

Additional Bennies:
XII, not clued as a prefix for -phoid;
GIS may lure @Aketi back to comment;
ZENO, reminding me of my sole/appalling blind date in freshman year (sigh).

Strano ma vero, I didn't half Haight this Mon xwp: thought it SOKT it to me. Please, can we have AMORA?

Nancy 9:51 AM  

I was just mindlessly filling in squares, so I Simply Stopped, a third of the way down. That's because it was So Soporific.

GILL I. 10:15 AM  

I time my french press coffee to STEEP for exactly 4 min. and I finished this just before the beeper went off. Smart me.
Just another POCS filled puzzle.
Best part are the comments. @Rex and @Leapster had me aSmiling.
ESAU, ESAI by the Sea Shore....
I have to go get poked today at the doctor's...I'll try and construct a puzzle.

Zwhatever 10:24 AM  

Shockingly, that reference for all things in good taste, The Urban Dictionary, is more racially sensitive than the NYTX regarding SOUL SISTER. Rex is spot on when he writes, "tone deaf, inaccurate, and syntactically botched." Anyone able to explain how it's not those three things?

I see that others feel alliteration is a theme. Not I. For me this a themeless that over uses S. I must confess to chuckling at Himmler's post. Dark humor has always been a weak spot of mine.

@The Rhino - Fair point. Both are fairly tired crosswordese to experienced solvers, but that cross is not fair on a Monday.

ArtO 10:30 AM  

It's Monday, Rex. Why get so worked up? A two sentence snarky review would have sufficed.

Steve J 10:36 AM  

@Billy C: Your comments were directed at Rex, but since I had many of the same complaints, I'll jump in.

It's not a theme (or an incredibly thin one) because all the theme is, is alliteration. Nothing more. Add in that there's a nearly infinite number of phrases you can make using words starting with S, and the entire thing is incredibly arbitrary. It's a theme in the way a 6-year-old's knock-knock joke is technically a joke. It meats the definition, but it's hardly as satisfying as a full-on joke told by an actual comedian.

CSIS: No one has said "I like watching the various CSIS." Ever. (Yes, I'm being hyperbolic. But it's not something in common use.)

I can't speak for Rex, but my problem with KOLN is that it's incorrect. It's either Köln or Koeln. But the NYT rarely handles umlauts correctly (nor factors them in in crosswords), so it's not surprising. As far as ESAI, I'm surprised you haven't heard of him. He's very common crosswordese (it's his third appearance in the NYT just this month).

As far as SOUL SISTER, see the comment that appears immediately below yours. At best, the clue reflects a very dated and stereotyped impression of how black people refer to their close friends.

Anonymous 10:37 AM  

RAVEL Notrub, still alive.
Born 1957 in Landstuhl, West Germany, not that far from KOLN.

Leapfinger 10:42 AM  

It's worth a few minutes to read the constructor's comments (at xwordinfo or WP) which tell how crosswords most likely saved his life.

Arlene 10:44 AM  

I thought this was a rather fun Monday puzzle - the kind I would have really enjoyed decades ago, because it was so easy to navigate, and had so many theme answers.
And then I got to the clue for SOUL SISTER - and thought, "oh my" - what is this doing here?
Enough said.

Maxipuss 10:51 AM  

Ravel and unravel mean the same thing so 68A is incorrectly clued.

RooMonster 11:07 AM  

Reworked SE corner to get rid of CSIS:


You're welcome.


Joseph Michael 11:22 AM  

I know that there's a lot of it and that it probably wasn't easy to construct, but this theme SuckS.

AliasZ 11:23 AM  

I decided early on that if today's puzzle didn't have silk stockings in it, I won't like it. Or Sisyphean self-aggrandizing, shell shock, Saint Sebastian, shoe string, and the sweet smell of sucrose.

It didn't, but I still liked it. I always welcome an SS theme, and it didn't take me too long to unRAVEL it. I also noticed the symmetrical METS-RATS, and SMASH-SLEET semi-themers.

Not much else to say about this one, it is perfectly apt as a Monday adventure for a newcomer to crossworld.

Samuel Scheidt (1587-1654) was a German composer, organist and music teacher. The following piece is from his Cantionae sacrae: "Duo Seraphim clamabant", and if you are so inclined, after listening to this all-too-brief 4½-minute clip, I bet you will want to hear more by him.

Happy Monday.

Hartley70 11:30 AM  

Ssssssssswell for the very easiest of Mondayssssss.

Lady Marmelade 11:43 AM  

Hey sista, go sista, soul sista, flow sista
Hey sista, go sista, soul sista, go sista

Barry Silverman 11:56 AM  

Much ado about nothing...

Zwhatever 11:57 AM  

@Maxipuss - Are you familiar with the idea of a contronym? RAVEL is a contronym. So, while you are correct that RAVEL and unravel mean the same thing, you are wrong that the clue is wrong.

And who said we had too many -nyms?

Masked and Anonymous 12:08 PM  

People gotta cut this puppy Some Slack. 12 interlocking themers, and fill easy enough to play in a MonPuz? Sort of a real delicate balance, there. This puz deserves defenders. @muse: U go, girl.

@009: This one here reminds m&e of yer debut NYTPuz, where all the themer words started with S.O.S.!

Agree with @Roo and @009 -- gotta rework that SE corner, a dash. @Roo: Scrabble-twerked an "X" into that sucker! M&A prefers U-twerkin, to get that 3-U count up, a bit …

57. ___ alai
61. Anything The New Yorker puts out
70. Cover starting at the far end??
73. Realtor talk for "had to get outa town fast"

46. Famous Mahal
50. Where Donald Trump likes to speak from [not phone]
62. Pitching accomplishment
63. Russkie high point
64. Boston Garden chant

Hang in there, @BH. Yer desperation has a nice twinkle to it.



old timer 12:10 PM  

9 minutes, definitely a Monday time (my fastest ever, using pen and ink on newsprint, is 7). And then another 2 minutes gawking at the puzzle in admiration. I thought it was a tour de force to get so many themers in. And, Mr.Haight did it with almost no crosswordese. When the worst words in the puzzle are GIS and TIS and TKOS, you've done very well.

One obvious problem with the theme density is that one or two of the themers will fall on its figurative face with a thud. SELLSTOCKS did that for me. So did SETSAIL. And SADSONG would have but it brought back such a pleasant Beatles memory. I think the theme would have been better, if less dense, if all the Across themers had had two esses next to one another.

I did cringe at the definition for SOULSISTER, and wonder if Shortz wrote that one in place of a clue deemed too hard for a Monday. Because if Haight wrote the clue, I would hope Shortz would have changed it. If you ask me, White and Asian girls can be soul sisters, too -- though you pretty much have to be Black to be a "soul brother".

I can't for the life of me see what is wrong with the LIZST/ZENO crossing. True, a lot of Monday-level solvers won't know ZENO. But almost everyone has heard of LIZST, at least vaguely. Note that Mr. Rhino is not telling us *he* had a problem finding the answer.

Second (or third) thumbs up for CSIS. There were an amazing number if iterations of that show, each set in a different city.

Billy C 12:29 PM  

@Lady Marmelade: Heh, imagine Rex's reaction if the answer had been SOUL SISTA!

Train Man 12:39 PM  

Hey anon @ 12:17: I wonder why Rex didn't think of posting that video?!

Billy C. 1:18 PM  

@SteveJ --

OK, I respect your point of view, but please let me respond.

On "theme," here that means a number of entries with something in common. Nothing more. It seems to me that you and @Rex have a personal point of view, and doubtless others share it, that it was a weak or otherwise unlike able theme. And @Rex, in his cantankerous mood takes the next step and says: "it's not a theme. No." I say: It's a theme, whether you like it or not.

On CSIs. OK, perhaps no one ever said: "I like watching the various CSIs." How about: "To their credit, the acting in every one of the CSIs is superb." Or some such.

Apparently @Rex's problem with ""KOLN" is that, together with a few others, it's "bottom of the barrel stuff. Maybe true with "choo" and "owie," but KOLN is certainly not in the same class with those. You don't like it because the NYT can't handle umlauts. So should all words with diacriticals be off-limits? How about two-word answers with the second capitalized (La Bamba, e. g.), since the puzzle can't differentiate letter cases. Aw, c'mon, @Steve.

On "Soul Sister," after some thought, I think the problem is this: As you say, it's viewed by many as stereotyping, as is anything using the loaded word "soul" where there could be a racial context assumed. Interestingly, if one Googles it, surprisingly there's little racial component to its definitions or usage examples. (It also may be dated, I dunno, but I don't think that's the main issue here.) The black woman commenting below me says she's never used the term and takes umbrage. Fair enough. I'll back off on the issue -- it IS stereotyping, and in a way that some can view as disparaging, so therefore inappropriate.

Molson 1:28 PM  

Thank you Rex. Today's post is exactly what I came here to read and you did not disappoint. 1 star puzzle, 4 star review.

Teedmn 1:43 PM  

Mr. Haight never seems to get the love! Well, I had my fastest time ever, a sub-six, so that was exciting, and I kind of liked the kids' book quality of the double ess phrases, kind of Sing-Song-y.

True, the 32D clue got a squint from me, and the ESAU/ESAI double whammy was an eye roller. But I don't find the pluralization of CSIS all that bad - aren't there multiple versions of the show? I've never seen any of them but I thought there were at least three. Or am I mixed up with something else? I never see network TVS shows.

Of course, I had my usual # of writeovers, but those never bother me. The only stupid one was my misspelling LISZT when I had the theme sequence to keep me straight but oh well, live and, apparently, not learn :-).

Anonymous 1:55 PM  

I concur with the negative review. All I could think of was "Who devises an SS-themed puzzle?" Springtime for Hitler?

r.alphbunker 2:07 PM  

Puzzle report

Today's puzzle had 35 'S's which is almost a record for a 15x15. A Patrick Merrill Thursday puzzle edged it out with 36:

I have added a letter distribution feature to the puzzle report that highlights the squares containing a chosen letter.
@M&A you will be glad to know that I have made the default letter a 'U' (3 of them today)

Uncle John C 2:09 PM  

I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned the error in the clue for 1A. In the newspaper version, at least, the clue is "1969 & 1985 World Series Champs". The Mets won in '69 and in 1986! (That unforgettable Game 6 upset - often cited in "Seinfeld).

Also - in my opinion, OFL has hit the nail right on the head.

Bless My Soul 3:15 PM  

@M&A, granted that La Muse gave the most technical and complete defense of this particular puzzle today, but it really is starting to steam my clambake the way you talk as if there's nobody else ever making some of the same points. Not asking for complete lists of recognition, a simple 'et al' would suffice.

Mr. Benson 4:07 PM  

Maybe this comes across as mean, but I've gotten to the point where I see the name Bruce Haight and roll my eyes immediately. He's the anti-Patrick Berry.

Diana,LIW 4:34 PM  

Sso. It’s Monday, folks. Trying out my Kindergardner legs, I went out and got a Times. OK, any puzzle I finish in the NYT under 8 minutes will make me happy, crossword toddler that I am. I felt like one of those puzzle-convention-solving maniacs. I’ll take my happys where I can get them.

OTOH, there was a cringe at SOULSISTER. And a lot of the fill, which wasn’t BAD, was not sparkling – didn’t have many laughs or even big smiles. Except for EEK. I’m not a constructor, and I admire any and all who can do this feat. However, I used to put together a crossword in my mid-term and final exams, and EEK and Stephen King’s initials were my only two fill words. My puzzles followed none of the “rules” the NYT adheres to, as you can see.

So, I didn’t think it ssizzled, but didn’t think it ssucked as much as OFL ssays. BTW, there is a new campaign, “Spokane Doesn’t Suck,” here in my hometown. Read all about it at

MathGent – the song was “Say Hey.” (Ssay!)

Teedmn – thanks for the nudge last week to get the NYT subscription. I am leaning that way, especially since we spend most of the winter in Pacific Grove, and the local paper has 2 crosswords that make today’s puzzle look like the most difficult and elegant mind bender you’ve ever encountered. They only have the NYT on Sundays. Hissss

Diana, Lady in Waiting for Crosswords

Ludyjynn 5:26 PM  

Funnily enough, Patti LaBelle threw a fan who was stripping down onstage out of her Vancouver concert over the weekend. Guess she did not consider her to be a SOULSISTER, a la "Lady Marmalade", calling the fan a bitch, instead! Social media went viral over the incident.

The damn song has been earworming in my head all day. It would have been the better clue to 32 Down. Voulez vous couchez...?

RAD2626 7:22 PM  

I do not usually like BH puzzles but thought this was a good Monday puzzle and -obviously - a considerable feat of construction. I just filled them all in and saw the theme when I was done. Never realized there were that many. Nice going. Was jarred by SOUL SISTER clue like others. Answer was fine. Is "ethereal sibling" too esoteric for Monday?

Going back to Saturday, which was admittedly a bear. Why is it a "stunt" puzzle? Because there is so few black squares? I do not consider a dense puzzle a "stunt". Cluing and answers were hard but not gimmicky. Rebuses - which based on comments here most people like more than I do - are " stunts". So was last Thursday's triple letter "stunt". I did not consider the Adamick puzzle a stunt at all. And sports writers regularly refer to UCLA athletes as UCLANs. Inelegant maybe; but not unfair.

Okay. Off my high horse for the night.

Chris Mc 8:03 PM  

Absolutely hilarious write-up. I started laughing at CSIs and couldn't stop the rest of the way. Even my dogs thinks I'm crazy.

Even a clue for SOULSISTER that referenced the Train song would have been better.


OCD 8:09 PM  

Hell's bells, I take my tranks on a schedule more regular than this comment modulation busimess.

mathgent 9:29 PM  

@Diana, LIW: Thanks. The song was Say Hey by Michael Franti and Spearhead. He's a Bay Area guy.

kitshef 10:18 PM  

I'm gonna be biased on this one as it's my first ever finish using only the across clues. So, clearly easy. And oddly most of the iffy fill is on the downs. I never even noticed CSIS,which I would have been ok with, nor the clue for SOULSISTER, which is just awful. That was the key phrase for me, giving me the theme, but I assumed it was clued musically.

Steve J 10:19 PM  

@Billy C: Not to belabor the point, but I think the "not a theme" comment falls into the category of hyperbole. You're right that it technically is a theme. We've covered the views on quality.

As to KOLN: I didn't make it clear in my earlier comment: I was going off on a tangent. I have no issue with its being in the puzzle, and I don't think it is remotely comparable to, say, CHOO as bad fill. Not using the alternate "oe" in absence of an umlaut is one of those little things that annoys me. Just like ANO vs AÑO in puzzles.

@Uncle John C: The clue was 1986 in the digital version. Given that nobody else mentioned it, I'm guessing if there was an error in print, it was in only a few editions.

Leapfinger 10:25 PM  

@RAD2626, Tall in the Saddle looks good on you.

@AliasZ, have seen several Martyrdoms of St Sebastian painted; this was my first meeting in music and a bit of a surprise for Debussy. Also, quite right about the Scheidtenfreude --- the short clip was not enough.

Pssst @Questinia, how would your Sibyl Ant match up against that Amazon Ant?

Wondering if SOUL_PATCH would also take a lambasting.

Maxipuss 1:50 AM  

Thanks, Z. You taught me something new. I stand corrected.

spacecraft 11:26 AM  

So sorry, but I can't SITSTILL for this one. Luckily, yours truly STOPSSHORT of getting seasick, but it feels like falling down a STEEPSLOPE without a SKISUIT. One SEESSTARS. So sue me, S__S__ phrases are all around us. Many of you try to give credit for the slop-stuffing density angle; but that sounds shallow when the stuff you're stuffing is...well, slop.

What makes it slop is not the themers themselves, but the SORESPOTS in between. Listing all the OWIEs would be exhaustive; I'll just mention that we have our xword buddies ESAI and ESAU together at last, in one grid. For once I am foursquare with OFL; it's as if the constructor (for three years???) simply didn't care. Folks, if he's been doing this for three years, I daresay he's off to a monstrously SLOWSTART!

There is increasing evidence lately that Mr. Shortz is on holiday or something. I'd hate to think that the "or something" is a who-cares attitude. Hmm, SHORTZSLIPS? This one should have been rejected; I HADTO give it an F.

P.S. Re: 1-across: ...and maybe 2015?

Burma Shave 11:46 AM  


LEAH looks SLEEK in her SKISUIT heading down the STEEPSLOPE,
with a SLOWSTART she STOPPSSHORT and with a SADSONG she’ll mope.
so I HADTO SETSAIL to fetch her, that BRAT’s like a STOVE, she’s so hot!


today’s stream of unconsciousness brought to you by AAA, MSNBC, and SPCA

rondo 12:20 PM  

What a Mon-puz! I’ve always been an S man. I can’t get ENOW of that sweet stuff. Please SPARE me the sweat socks and slap shots next time around. And with the mini World Series theme in the NW, flip it around for SHORTSTOPS.

One way bituminous pavements (blacktop, to civilians) deteriorate is to RAVEL. They do not unRAVEL, as there is no such process.

A BRAT is a tailgating sausage with a tantalizing AROMA. If I HADTO rate them, Usinger’s (from Milwaukee) is the best, Johnsonville (widely available) is an acceptable substitute.

A good substitute clue would be TV’S yeah baby Ms. Remini for LEAH, but no cross reference in the puz. Why does SHAG come to mind?

Don’t know the PCT of the puz filled with an S, could be a record. SOS, CSIS.

leftcoastTAM 4:24 PM  

I agree with all of what Rex said. (I don't think I've ever written that before, but there it is.)

leftcoastTAM 4:27 PM  

Nice work (again), @Burma Shave.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP