Vaccine letters / FRI 10-16-15 / One of officemates on Office / John of old sitcoms / Frontiersman Boone informally

Friday, October 16, 2015

Constructor: Joe Krozel

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: unchecked squares along the borders = every letter of the alphabet 

Word of the Day: NIPA (45A: Long-leaved palm) —
Nypa fruticans, commonly known as the nipa palm, is a species of palm native to the coastlines and estuarine habitats of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the only palm considered adapted to the mangrove biome. This species is the only member of the genus Nypa and the subfamily Nypoideae, forming monotypic taxa.
• • •

Well at least this pangram makes sense, i.e. it's part of the internal logic of the theme and not some stupid, grid-hampering "accomplishment" that someone has tried to force on a early-week themed puzzle. I actually used the theme to solve the theme, i.e. I was able to narrow down possibilities by looking at what letters had Not shown up yet in the border squares. In this way, the apparently unchecked squares actually are, in their way, checked—by the finitude of letters of the alphabet. I relied on that finitude in part to get the "X" in SIX (23A: Big roll?) (not sure why the "?"—the clue is literally true for a six-sided die) and to get the very last edge piece, the "K" in what turned out to be PEAK (46D: Where people are drawn to scale?) (that one definitely needed the "?"). Tough clue, good clue. Too bad the "P" crossed NIPA (!?!), probably the worst thing in the grid. That "P" was my last letter. I had to run the alphabet to get it.

The longer answers are occasionally a bit odd or ungainly. It's PROCEDURES MANUAL way way way more often than PROCEDURE MANUAL (unless your office has just the one procedure, I guess). The indefinite article in the verb phrase ROLLOVER AN IRA is awkward. That answer describes a thing people do, but it is not very tight, as stand-alone phrases go. QUEENS OF ENGLAND, as a plural, also a bit outside the bullseye. But there's nothing jarring there. Just some iffiness.

Today I learned the word VISCID (11D: Sticky). I knew "viscous." VISCID, I just had to infer. I made a few mistakes along the way. OPEN ELECTIONS for OPEN PRIMARIES. . . actually, that may be it. This was pretty easy overall.

Was this a "New Idea"? Maybe. I don't think I've seen anything like it before. But on the whole "New Ideas" week has been a fraud. All the "New" ideas are variations on ideas that have been seen before, though usually in venues less popular than the NYT. So maybe "New-To-You Ideas, Probably" Week would've been more accurate. My issue is with the week and its pomposity (and inaccuracy), not w/ the puzzles per se, which have been decent-to-great. For god's sake, even the little "note" accompanying the puzzles is deceitful. It reads:
"We asked some favorite Times crossword contributors, "What would you like to do in a daily Times crossword that has never been done before?" This week's puzzles, Monday to Saturday, are the result." 
But here are yesterday's constructor's notes about his own puzzle. Kevin Der wrote: "I submitted this puzzle about a year and half ago, and fortunately it ended up fitting into this special week." So ... ignore the (astonishing) part about how that puzzle sat around for a year and a half (!?) ... and just focus on the fact that yesterday's puzzle was not not not not the result of anyone's "asking" Kevin anything. He made it of his own accord because he is awesome. The scenario laid out in the note from the NYT is simply a fiction. I won't say "lie." But you can if you want.

What happens Monday. Do we revert to tedium interspersed with occasionally good/great puzzles? Let's see.

Have a nice Friday. TGIF! MAS TACOS!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 8:00 AM  

Thanks gimmick of the day for giving me my fastest Friday time ever.

Never heard of NIPA. Is that one of those words that pops in from automated constructor databases? I'm not a constructor so I don't know.

@Rex is kind of wrong about PROCEDURE MANUAL needing to be plural.

And what's awkward about the indefinite article in ROLLOVER AN IRA ?

joho 8:09 AM  

I liked NEW clued, "Not previously seen," in the grid and wondered if Joe was referring this whole week of puzzles.

I thought this was easy for a Friday but I really enjoyed figuring out where to put all of the letters of the alphabet around the perimeter of the puzzle. ... fun!

Joe Krozel shows us that he is just as CRAFTY as ever. LOVE his puzzles!

@Rex, great write-up until your repetitive rant at the end ... enough already!

Dorothy Biggs 8:14 AM  

@Rex...interesting catch on the whole "We asked..." thing. The bottom line is, after 20+ years of doing these things, I've found there is nothing new under the xword sun. At a certain point of "newness" or "uniqueness," puzzles cease to be xword puzzles and become something else.

Granted, I've done mostly NYT puzzles (occasionally the LAT or Washington Post or USA Today, etc), so maybe there is a whole world of uniqueness out there I don't know about. But basically, of what I know, it is just a world of riffing on other puzzles that have been done before.

It's a little like music in that there is little left in the way of innovation left to be done. That said, and to quote Arnold Shoenberg, "There are a lot of good pieces still to be written in C Major."

So, for this week in the NYT, instead of "never been done before," they should have gone for "outliers we don't use because, while these look like xword puzzles, they aren't any more." Or something like that, since that's a bit wordy.

I did like this puzzle. And also, like Rex, I've enjoyed most of the puzzles this week. So the question is, "what are you going to do now, NYT xword puzzle?" Are you going to keep trying to innovate (read: non-unique, good puzzles) or just put on the cruise control, sit back, and text while driving?

chefbea 8:15 AM  

I googled a lot but finally almost finished it with two empty squares along the edge. Didn't realize it was the alphabet around the sides or I could have finished.

Another brilliant masterpiece for the week

Leapfinger 8:16 AM  

Ah me!
I was taken down by a severe case of @McGregor's Revenge. The app I use made a cat's dinner of this puzzle, with all the unchecked squares numbered, clues and fill scrambled beyond deciphering, even unto transposing Acrosses and Downs. F'r instance, the 31A Payback=REVENGE wound up at the 21D position. All of which I discovered after about 45 minutes of mounting frustration resulted in a little judicious peeking and, finally, a comparison with the NYT app --- which seems to have done it right, but which I've avoided like the plague. Till now....

Shall have another goatit later, but not until the day has its way with me.

Am just relieved to have discovered that Joe Krozel isn't as much of a sadist as he seemed to be an hour ago.

0648 EST

Old Lady 8:27 AM  

Had the same solve experience as Rex, with the pangram giving me the boost I needed for SIX and PEAK. I loved looking at this puzzle. Could be a quilt pattern. Bravo, bravo to the constructor. Fun and easier than most Fridays for me.

Jon Alexander 8:34 AM  

Super easy for me for a Friday...didn't even see the "theme" until I looked back after Rex pointed it far as this week goes, I think only the hangman puzzle was the "new" something I hadn't seen really before, so over all it has been a bit disappointing if only for the high expectations I had going in.

Charles Flaster 8:36 AM  

Medium and DNF with VISCID and NIPA.
Enjoyed the longer answers as they made the short fill much easier.
Write over was HIGH for DisH.
Thought CURATED was a neat answer.
Thanks J K.

bwalker 8:36 AM  

I solved in pretty much the same way as Rex ending on the same spot, and I used the theme to find answers, a rarity. I had to ROLLOVER AN IRA as recently as yesterday, and that is the exact phrase the broker used.

The puzzles this week were clever, challenging, and (yes) new to me. No gripes there.

Carola 8:47 AM  

Reading this blog taught me what a pangram is, and that definitely helped me both finish and appreciate the puzzle. Early on, I'd thought the outer squares might spell a message; late in the game I guessed that a pangram was in the works and did an alphabet run to help me fill in the remaining spaces - particularly helpful for SAM, as I don't know him from Sal, for the Dad BOD (new to me - I'd considered "gOD"), and, like @Rex, for the K and resulting NIPA palm.

Proper names gave me some trouble, as I didn't know TAVIS, GABE, RITTER, TECATES, or LIN (or SAM); I was able to guess MILEY and LENOS and was happy to see old-timers DANL, PHIL Everly and MENOTTI. Liked EMERITA with EDU.

jberg 8:59 AM  

DNF, I just failed to think of scaling as something you did to a mountain, and of course had no idea abut that palm. AS A LAST RESORT, I searched for "NIbA palm" on Google, which helpfully suggested that I might have meant NIPA.

What I learned: "Dad BOD." Not nearly as far from the ideal as my Grampa BOD, though.

EYE exam before TEST, but the rest just came along, slowly than faster, until I ran into that darn palm.

Oh yeah, CRypTo before CRAFTY, ALSO.

Z 9:06 AM  

Work long enough in a job that pays enough and one can end up with multiple IRAs, so iffiness there. As for PROCEDURE MANUAL, that's what it is called. Sure, a grammar nazi might insist that an S be included, but I'm betting that at least half of them are Sless. Again, no iffiness there.

Hand up for going "huh" at VISCID. Needed a third of the crosses before parsing OOPS I DID IT AGAIN. Wanted primary elections but didn't have enough squares. REDIAL kept me from coronas, but needed most of the crosses before remembering TECATES. PEAK was my next to last word, nice clue. the G in GEMINIS was my last letter and it was only after I wrote it in that I understood the clue, so good clue there, too.

As for this week's note - No problem. It's a better story than, "Hey! This weeks puzzles are a little different from the norm, be ready." It's not the exact literal truth? BFD.

What I'm really curious about this morning is what was behind this tweet.

gifcan 9:12 AM  

I was about half way through the puzzle when I thought to count the border squares. 26, ahh, I get it. It made the solve easier. SAYSOS looked funny forever, I thought it was going to be SAYS OK. NIPA, MENOTTI, LIN didn't know, got from crosses.

I enjoyed the solving experience. I couldn't sleep so I rose to solve.

Sir Hillary 9:12 AM  

I enjoyed Wednesday's and Thursday's solve more than this one, but I have to admire the construction and the pangram theme today. My favorite entry is OOPSIDIDITAGAIN, which played on seemingly endless loop in my house a decade or so ago. My least favorite is definitely NIPA, but the clue for PEAK makes it worth it. It seems odd to talk of FAILINGSTUDENTS in the context of "success" -- "performance" would have been more apt.

And finally...@Rex, while I am very grateful for the entertainment you provide all of us with this blog, your seemingly daily and certainly repetitive attacks on the NYT puzzle are tiresome. Just as you want more originality and higher standards for the puzzle, apply the same high bar to your own criticism, which in my view is not original. Further, it appears obvious that you have a problem with Will Shortz's stewardship of the puzzle, so man up and call him out by name, especially if you are so bold as to use words like "fraud" and "lie". Stop criticizing the "NYT" as if it were a secret committee that makes puzzle decisions. Just one man's opinion.

Tita 9:15 AM  

Fun but not very tricky. Just a themeless with a bit of a twist.
I didn't read the note until I was at a standstill. Finally caved and read it, and that definitely helped. I had 4 missing edge squares, all in the west, and that focus led me to the final fill.

I have to agree with Rex...not quite NEW enough. The already-published ACME Earthquake puzzle was more NEW than this...the one where the grid became two tectonic plates that slid past each other...

I must say that I expected/hoped that she and Liz Gorski were going to show up this week. In fact, while solving, I thought the Wednesday puzzle was a Liz oeuvre... (I don't look at the constructor name till done.)

Thanks Mr. Krozel. Nice execution.

Loren Muse Smith 9:23 AM  

What a splendid-looking grid. When I had the unchecked B, R, V, and H very early, I swear, I counted the number of unchecked squares and just guessed that they would be all the letters of the alphabet. So I'm afraid I shamelessly wrote them out in the margin and erased them as they fell because I was in a hurry. (Daughter and 6 friends from college visiting this weekend.) This crutch was enormously helpful, as others have mentioned, and my progression was unusually rapid for a themeless. Actually it was a dnf because of the MENOTTI/LENOS/LIN cross. I guessed correctly on the O but put "Genos/Gin" instead. Stupid.

It really helped that I got OOPS I DID IT AGAIN right at the start off only the D in BOD. Embarrasses me to be candid about knowing that song and MILEY. Funny, I love vapid tv but look down my nose at MILEY and Britney.

Funniest erasure – a sordid "sex" for SIX. As in "big roll" in the hay. Hey – kinda valid, right?

Loved the clue for PEAK. Dastardly. And terrific.

Wonder if 37A portends a grid tomorrow with two septuple stacks crossing two sextuple stacks. Game on, Martin. Boy, wouldn’t some people be livid?! Hah!

Hardest word – VISCID. Kept wanting “viscous” because, c’mon, what adjective in English ends in _ID?

This would have been even more elegant if Joe had managed not to have any of the unchecked letters appear also in the grid.

And, yes, I am just kidding.

Joe – our intrepid grid designer and envelope pusher. Solid work.

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

I also ran the alphabet to solve some of the border squares, which I suppose is the point in design like this. Was unfamiliar with NIPA, and MENOTTI was buried a little too deep for quick access. TACOS and TECATES made a good pair, like EMERITA and EDU.

I enjoyed the puzzle, even though it certainly isn't something that has 'never been done before.' C'mon NYT, give your faithful solvers some credit.

Dorothy Biggs 9:25 AM  

I failed to mention earlier that there is a kind of xword puzzle I enjoy doing and it is published by the clearly hasn't made its way into the mainstream yet, but the Puns and Anagrams puzzles are always challenging and fun to do. That would have been an interesting addition to an earlier week puzzle this week.

Anonymous 9:41 AM  

No verb rollover. It's ROLL OVER.

Da Bears 9:44 AM  

Oh, Rex, there you go again. I see nothing pompous or inaccurate in the Editor’s note. Maybe Kevin’s puzzle inspired the concept. Maybe it didn’t but Will Shortz decided it fit within the concept. In the soon to be immortal words of Hillary Clinton, what difference does it make?

JHC 9:44 AM  

Richard Maltby's cryptic in Harpers did this exact same thing not too long ago (certainly this year). So, y'know, it's not THAT new.

Z 9:46 AM  

A couple of follow-ups:

NO iffiness - how did I not catch that I left that out "no" until my comment hit my inbox?
There is a note letting solvers know that the unchecked squares will be the alphabet once.
@Tita - Sadly, it seems that CC is the only non-male constructor left in the NYTX universe.
@Sir Hillary - I was going to mention that good educators view the absence of FAILING STUDENTS as a measure of a school's success.

GeezerJackYale48 9:48 AM  

Sir Hillary: TWO men's opinion. But I suppose we would also get pretty jaded after the innumerable puzzles Rex has reviewed. As for the puzzle itself, it was good fun. By elimination I got "Dad Bod" but am not quite sure what it means.

RooMonster 9:54 AM  

Hey All !
Another ridiculously hard-to-constrct puzzle. Man, these constructors are amazing! Four 13's next to four 15's, and very little dreck. Bravo JK! Only one very minor (very) nit, some of the clues seemed overstretched to reach FriPuz level. And Dad BOD=??

Agree the theme (or note that some people might not have {might'nt've?} seen) helped with getting some of the edge pangram. Still had a DNF, though. DPd for DPT, VISCIs (I know, viscUs!), and had gOD in for BOD, so had the B at bEMINaS for GEMINIS. Had no idea what a June bEMINa was, but hey... :-)

Overall, another awesome puz, makes the ole brain hurt just thinking about constructing this.


quilter1 9:59 AM  

I read the note and knew I was looking for the alphabet and that helped me right along. Ended with the Z as I had tao before ZEN, my only write-over. I have nejoyed every puzzle this week and I don't care about @Rex's nit picks because I had fun.

Honeysmom 10:00 AM  

The note at top of this week's puzzles obviously means newish to the NYT, not all puzzles in general. And I agree that Rex's constant gripes are definitely getting old. My best Friday ever, and lots of fun! Lighten up you guys who get your kicks from complaining!

GILL I. 10:04 AM  

@Rex...great write-up. You too @NCA President.
I've had fun all this week. Today I knew it was a pangram because the NYT told me so when I printed it out. I started by leaving all the perimeter squares empty to try and guess which letter of the alphabet would just slide in. It didn't work! But, I kept tabs of my alphabet!
I had SEX for that big roll because I wanted my student winning not FAILING...the F and the C for CURATED were the last to fall.
@Carola...I too had Dad GOD (yikes) but I knew GEMINI had to be correct. Wait, I'm missing a B. By the way, good thing you've never heard of TECATE. That beer is vile and no amount of lemon shoved down the can will make it taste any better.
@Tita...Maybe we will get Liz manana.
I always imagine some rough dude like John Wayne holding up the bar in the cantina with a little whiskey instead of eating some TACOS.
This was fun Joe Krozel...can't wait for more.

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

Rex, please stop being so critical. Put up some of your own creations, so readers may attack them as mercilessly as you.

This was a fun puzzle.

(And no, "procedures manual" is not a thing--if anything it would be "procedural manual"; what about "flight manual"---do you think it ought to be "flights manual?" Your knowledge of grammar appalls me.)

Carol Spradling 10:11 AM  

TIL - from one of your earlier commenters - that "go at it", when typed with a whacked space bar, is "goatit".

Goat it - there are times I'd much much rather goat it that go at it

Goa tit - I'm sure there are such beaches, indeed.

I thought the premise was clever, didn't pick up on the "checked" (alphabet) theme, just plodded through the answers until I hit NIPA/PEAK. Which is embarrassing because I caught the cluing on "drawn to scale" right away. "Aha!", thought I, "scale as in climb!". I had -EA- and still didn't see it. How many darn hill/mountain words could that be?

Guess if I'd sussed out the alphabet dealio I could have gotten the K, and I'll put just enough faith in myself to assume that with -EAK, I would have gotten it.

Instead I googled every permutation of NI-A until NIPA rang the cherries, which took waaay longer.

Glad to see that my "streak" wasn't hit by yesterday's "only the first solve counts". That blue puzzle nearly undone me, womanhood wise.

Mohair Sam 10:11 AM  

@Sir Hillary - Let's face it, Will Shortz's very name is to Rex as the name Utley is to a Mets fan. Like you I thoroughly enjoy Rex's commentary on everything else - I just pop in a grain of salt when he gets into Will (took two grains today) and move on.

Had fun with this one as we have all week. Played fairly easy for a Friday. Did the Rex thing and relied on the finitude (new word for us, really like it) of the alphabet to make things easier. Loved the clue for PEAK (46d), and agree with OFL about questioning the question mark on 23a (SIX) - hesitated to put in the obvious X because of the "?" - but used good old finitude to get it.

Might have naticked on the "C" at VISCID/TECATES, both new to us, but sussed (guessed?) VISCID somehow off visceral I think. PROCEDUREMANUAL fine as clued imo, and I've written a couple of them. There are office procedures, but there is a procedure for doing certain things.

Hey, my spell check denies finitude - but it's wrong!

Nancy 10:12 AM  

OK, I suppose, but far from my favorite of this delightful week. I tried to solve it as a themeless but shouldn't have, because the theme would have give me Dad BOD instead of Dad mOD (as in Dad model? I never heard this expression, btw.) Should have noticed the M of 51D, SAM. Then, at 46D, I noticed there was a "missing" B (which there wasn't, of course.) So, not knowing NI-A, I tried to make a word out of -EAb. Didn't notice that there was a missing K, which really was missing. In short, I didn't get NIPA or PEAK. Otherwise, I completed everything else.

Early mistakes: tao before ZEN. whiNER before MOANER. And I wanted ---Ful at 39D, instead of CRAFTY. But corrected them all. Some of the long answers were nice, though I could have skipped the Britney Spears hit. Challenging and reasonably diverting.

Robso 10:12 AM  

Rex, I was pretty sure you weren't going to like this and you didn't disappoint. I didn't like it because with so many boxes lacking the benefit of two clues, the constructor had to make sure nothing was too hard, otherwise it would easily have been impossible. Even so, I didn't finish (missed siX and PeaK) which are both good clues, and which I might have been able to get . . . if there had been more than one clue to help me.
In short, it seems like this is why this type of grid is not used.

pwoodfin 10:32 AM  

Hear f#%king hear! Love the comments but the blog meister's attacks on Will are beyond tedious. Enough already. Another man's opinion.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:36 AM  

Yup, as did @Rex and others, I needed to find the X and the K to finish.

Katzzz 10:45 AM  

Jeez, no way to make Rex happy. He continuously harps for better quality puzzles – and I have no problem with that – but when he gets a full week of attempts at novelty he can't find much to like. Can't you give the NYT credit for at least trying? Given the countless thousands of xword puzzles that exist, coming up with something that's unlike anything ever done before isn't easy, More like close to impossible.

Unknown 10:56 AM  

@Leapfinger: "I was taken down by a severe case of @McGregor's Revenge. The app I use made a cat's dinner of this puzzle."

Oh my! I'm now a "thing??"

Like others the pangrammtic (I know, not a word, but it sorta works) squares were a help in sorting through possibilities.

"Open" AN IRA hung things up in the North for a while. AS A LAST RESORT, I cheated to reveal the "R" for ROLL and got the OVER.

And VISCIS (11d) / CURATES (28a) seemed fine to me.

Love the Times' "You Did It" jingle (I'm easily amused) which I don't get doing a printed version. So I "reveal puzzle" after I'm done to hear it (and then to check my solution to see if I deserved it!).

Don't want to get into the habit of doing this, but....

"A perfect pangram contains every letter of the alphabet only once and can be considered an anagram of the alphabet; it is the shortest possible pangram. An example is the phrase 'Cwm fjord bank glyphs vext quiz' (cwm, a loan word from Welsh, means a steep-sided valley, particularly in Wales)." (Wiki)

“I have lived with several ZEN masters -- all of them cats.”
(Eckhart Tolle)

Chuck McGregor

Hartley70 10:57 AM  

One thing I noticed this week is that the progression of difficulty has been sacrificed to increase innovation. I thought today's grid design was interesting, but the puzzle was too easy for a Friday. It was true for Wednesday and Thursday also. Come on WS, give us a Saturday to make us quake as we open the paper or fire up our devices. There's nothing like a frisson of fear to liven up the weekend! Look at the multi-plex box office stats if you doubt me.

Andrew Heinegg 10:57 AM  

I did not read the instruction in the dead tree version of the puzzle and I am glad that I did not because, after going through the same solving experience as RP, I figured that it had to be a complete alphabet around the edges and got the Nipa, peak, six words to complete the solve.

I enjoyed this effort far more than any of the others this week but, Rex is so right about what a phony promotion this week's puzzles were written up with. I am guessing that tomorrow will be crossword tournament level difficult.

Hartley70 10:58 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maruchka 11:00 AM  

Did anyone else have this take on PEAK? The P was also my last, what-else-could-fit, entry, but not really getting it. Hoped it vaguely meant big trucks that must pull over before climbing a mountain (LOL, a bit), and not a vista (meh).

It's OK, no AHAs nor WTFs. I'm not a construction maven. But, a good challenge on occasion.

@Leapy - ditto! Joe often makes a MOANER of me. Happy to see the kinder, gentler side of Kroezel.

jae 11:10 AM  

Easy-medium for me too and I also needed the alphabet theme to get PEAK.  


Me too for OPEN electionS, but that was about it for erasures.

Clever and nicely done, plenty of zip with minimal dreck.  Liked it. 

Lobster11 11:20 AM  

This puzzle is proof that two wrongs really can make a right. By combining a pangram (boo!) with a plethora of unchecked squares (double boo!), Krozel has created a a puzzle in which the respective negatives of each not only cancel each other out, but combine into a fun and interesting theme. And not merely one of those themes that you can't appreciate until after the fact, but one that actually contributes to the solve. Pretty neat trick, IMO.

Joseph Michael 11:30 AM  

I've never seen a puzzle like this before, so it was NEW to me and enjoyable to solve.

Overall it's been a great week for crosswords so far. Nothing fraudulent about it. The only fly in the ointment is the incessant ranting of OFL who is so obsessed with RAISING THE BAR that he ends up finding fault with everything.

As far as crosswords go, I thougjt this one was a masterpiece.

Leapfinger 11:40 AM  

Am becoming somewhat satiated with this whole "Iniquity of Uniquity" theme we're being treated to. Next thing we know, someone's going to prove they found two snowflakes exactly alike.

I don't see anything wrong with variations on a theme. It doesn't hurt to enjoy what we have, if only because that's what we have.

Snowman is an island.

Anonymous 12:15 PM  

Waiting for Sunday. Hoping the Sunday puzzle has some fantastic meta that ties all the week's puzzles together. That would be fantastic and pull Will back from the brink. Currently, if I read this correctly, he's bruised, battered, and somewhat bloodied. A Sunday comeback would be one for the books.

I can't help but think we're watching/reading a hostile takeover.

Personally I was hoping for a week of true madness and mayhem, including one puzzle that included despots, mass murderers, villains, curse words, "George Carlin's 7 words you can't say on TV," etc.

Ironically, the recently imposed "comment moderation" has only served to magnify the tone of Rex's comments.

The jury's still out on the last paragraph in his blog. The NYT ran an excellent piece on "the death of bin Laden." Do we expect everything in the paper to be 100% accurate? No. Does that include a description of a special week of puzzles? Your call.



Masked and Anonymous 12:23 PM  

Very nicely done puz. Every entry with its head/tail in a bucket was pretty easy to get, except (in my case) for:

* MENOTT? - Woulda probably guessed MENOTT-O, but O-OPSetc already had its head in a bucket. So, no big problemo.

* ?EA? - Like @009, this was the final showdown, between M&A and Krozel, in this puz. Had no earthly idea, long-leaved-palm-wise. After carefully examining AWOL alphabet reps, I figured it was K, or mayhaps B, in that there bucket. (B had an "outside" chance, becuz I wasn't real familiar with the Dad BOD phrase. But … Dad KOD? I guess U can't call anyone a male ideal, if they is KO-eD all the time. But then U'd hafta get a word down there at 46-D that ends ?EAB, which wasn't gonna work.) So, long story short, ran the alphabet at the front end, and finally got it how PEAK would answer that single-? clue.

Fun solve. Real pretty grid. Smooth (with a NIPA MOANER stuff) fill. 4 U's -- one in solitary, three out on their own recognizance. Rodeo.

fave weeject was Dad BOD, becuz I learnt somethin, on that one. I guess pregnancy can really takes its toll on one's physique …

Still deeply diggin Weird Puz Week. The way I look at it, next week we shouldn't spend much time worryin about whether that week has some weird vs. non-weird puzs. Or whether the constructor was asked to be weird or asked to be non-weird or asked to add a few extra U's. Just try to enjoy whatever plops out of each tryin-hard-cuz-they wanna-look-good-and-workin-for-peanuts-for-the-luv-of-makin-puzs constructioneer's head.

This just occurs to M&A: Joe Krozel puzs are always pretty day-um weird. (Weird is good, imo, btw.) What if the Shortzmeister actually **had** called up old Joe, and said, "Joe, could you make us a real unusual one, for our upcoming Weird Puz Week?" I figure Joe would be somewhat confused by that request. What does the dude think I've been doin, all this time, he muses ...



Gene 12:24 PM  

Strongly agree with criticism of Rex above, especially about PROCEDUREMANUAL (perhaps Rex has never worked in a real office?) and ROLLOVERANIRA (perhaps Rex hasn't changed jobs or, of course, retired?). Also about the criticism of the NYT, although I read it every day, so it certainly has some attraction.

old timer 12:25 PM  

A perfect Friday for me. The kind that starts with staring blankly at the blank paper, and finally deciding, "Well, I'll just put in the short words that I know." And they were few and far between. The gimme was QUEENS OF ENGLAND, and there it helped that I already knew there would be a Q at the beginning of some phrase or another. That gave me SAM, A LOT. and (sorry, @Rex), PEAK. I thought the answer to "where people are drawn to scale" was obvious. It's the end of the week. So you need to look for the secondary meaning of a word. My only problem there was CRAFTY. Wanted it, but I had confidently written in "Don" as an introduction to Pedro and Diego. SAN is much better.

The rest of the puzzle went pretty smoothly. I had had "refunds" before REVENGE. And I certainly did not think FAILING STUDENTS were a measure of a school's success, though they are in a backwards sort of way. Few people fail at Harvard or Yale or Stanford. Many more do at the state universities. So do many at my local junior college, though that is ironically a measure of its success as a school with high standards. If you pass the JC's math classes and do well in English, you will be fully prepared to transfer to a good 4-year institution.

I think one measure of Krozel's quality as a constructor is that whenever you have the wrong word (like "refunds" for REVENGE) or can't think of the right word (like RIVER), the word Krozel has chosen is by far the best possible choice.

Unknown 12:35 PM  

For some strange reason I grokked "scaling a PEAK" immediately. It was the TAVIS/DPT cross that felt Naticky to me. I ran the alphabet and took a guess at a T. Figured that DPT might stand for Diphtheria, and maybe Tavis could be a proper name? Okay, just looked it up. Tavis Smiley - whoever.

nick 12:36 PM  

Easy and fun. Personally, I don't mind if this 'new puzzles' week wasn't literally new. The result so far has been five puzzles without the nyt's "oops I did it again" penchant for clunkers and for that I am grateful.

Lewis 12:39 PM  

My solving abilities are such that this was not easy-medium to me; it was "the thrill of victory". Tempted to Google several times but resisted, and finished on my own. That is a good feeling. And I didn't know a fair amount of those proper names.

The gimmick was clever and helped with my solve, the grid very clean, with but 56 words. I loved the clues for RIVER, GEMINIS, HIGH, and PEAK, and the answers CURATED and DadBOD (which has gotten some buzz recently). There's a fairly low double letter count (5), from the only constructor to produce a zero-double-letter NYT puzzle. There is probably a quip that can be made with the consecutive acrosses QUEENS OF ENGLAND AS A LAST RESORT, but it's not coming to me. Anyone?

I'm enjoying this week of out-of-the-traditional-box puzzles. I also like mainly having "standard" puzzles, as they make the non-traditional ones more special. In the same way, I would quickly get tired going out to eat every meal.

Trombone Tom 12:42 PM  

I enjoyed this very much and thought @Rex's rant a bit overboard. Never look at the notes and did not get the edge theme until I saw it here. Favorite clue was for PEAK. It took me forever to tumble to that one. Never heard of DAD-BOD, but like others had only to look in the mirror. Thank you Joe Krozel for an enjoyable romp.

Craig 12:44 PM  

It’s possible that they asked some contributors, "What would you like to do?”, but not Kevin, because they already knew they had his puzzle, or it’s possible that Kevin was indeed asked, and responded by suggesting this puzzle which they were sitting on, but then perhaps Kevin didn’t mention that. What ever the case, Rex’s scorching charge is not supported by Kevin’s notes. Oh well. Rex is Rex, and if it weren’t for his majesty none of us would be here (reading and responding on this blog). Nice pat on the back saying Kevin is awesome (he is), but the brass knuckles …

PF 12:49 PM  

Rollover is a noun. That's why rollover an IRA sounds odd. Once you parse it into "roll over an IRA" the strangeness goes away, because roll is a verb.

PF 12:51 PM  

Rollover is a noun. That's why rollover an IRA sounds odd. Once you parse it into "roll over an IRA" the strangeness goes away, because roll is a verb.

ArtO 12:55 PM  

Relatively easy for Friday but needed help from Google with Britney's 2000 hit (way past my time!). Had same finish as Rex with PEAK and NIPA. Almost always enjoy Joe Krozel's work. A really top constructor.

TerryB 1:30 PM  

A fun solve for a change. Enjoyed listing all 26 letters then crossing them off as the grid edges filled. Was I sexist for struggling with EMERITA? VAN for church or motel was a chuckle.

@Rex: Don't listen to Sir Hillary, he's just grouchy today. We all love you.

@Solvers: Really, it's not a race for those of us who are retired. Who cares how long it takes, not me!

Teedmn 1:58 PM  

This was easy for a Friday but fun. The theme helped me when I had KOPZ letters left and needed to find them a home. PEAK/NIPA was my last entry also. I had an S in the end of 28A, so I had Sid VISCIs for a while but CURATED CURed that.

Thanks, Joe Krozel.

cwf 2:26 PM  

Naticked at PEAK and RIPA. (And coincidentally will be riding the MBTA through Natick in about 3 hours). When I saw the answer I had to stare at it for a while before I understood the clue. I was sure is was misdirection from the thing you weigh yourself with.

I will never understand the commenters who complain about @Rex's kvetching. You DID type into the URL bar voluntarily, right? If @Rex stopped being @Rex, I'd stop reading him - I come here expressly for artful and witty curmudgeonry.

If you want insightful AND nice, you can always go see what Jeff Chen says on xwordinfo.

Annette 2:29 PM  

I took this grid for a pangram the instant I opened it and nothing slowed me down; I guess I was on JK's wavelength.

Had employees manual before procedure, and, like for many of us, NIPA's "p" was the last entry.


Anonymous 2:40 PM  

Unlike most of you, I found this puzzle very difficult. I resorted to coming on line for the answers. Did not like it at all

Unknown 3:10 PM  


"Really, it's not a race for those of us who are retired. Who cares how long it takes, not me!"

Ay-uh (I live in Maine), adding: why race to finish something that's fun to do?

I do race the clock playing Windows Solitaire (the classic game) but, if it turns into a long game to be able to finish, getting the better of it takes precedence. (Best time to date is 61 seconds.)

However, for those still in the throes of earning their keep, there's only so much time for gettin' 'er done. So, a race to rejoin the rat-race for the day it is. I do marvel at and am impressed with some of your puzzle completion times. I might slog through a puzzle, finally with the AHA after, say, an hour or so (likely with some cheats if it took that long). I come here and what (leaving off "TF" being in polite company)!? "Six minutes flat and fastest Friday ever" from one of you? Hat's off and a deep bow to that!!

Unknown 3:22 PM  

Oops. Faulty memory on two counts:
1. My 1st post (ever) said best time was 58 seconds for Solitaire. Post today is correct: 61 seconds.

2. Forgetting I had already mentioned it in my 1st post.

But I digress...

Indypuzzler 3:47 PM  

Late in the day and this probably won't be read if posted but...
@Rex, I don't know nuthin' about birthin' ( or editing ) puzzles but maybe, just maybe the editor conceived of this week long idea quite awhile ago and it took some time ( maybe even longer than a year and a half ago ) to collect the seven puzzles?
On another note, NIPA/PEAK and SIX held me up as well. Also, for me PROCEDURE MANUAL rings true more than PROCEDURES. Usually a procedure manual has a number of standard operating procedures. I will say that the whole discussion made me aware of the versatility of that word. Brilliant puzzle.

Anoa Bob 3:57 PM  

I think that the mark of top constructors is that they can make their puzzles challenging but, with some persistence, doable. That makes for an enjoyable and satisfying solve for me. Mr. Krozel seems to be always RAISINGTHEBAR on that account. Even though tempted a couple of times to get a little outside help, I decided I would do that only ASALASTRESORT, and got it done, unassisted.

TECATE(S) is a very puzzle-friendly beer. That repeating, common letter sequence is grid-filling gold. Bet you it will be served up again in the near future. It's made by Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma Brewery, along with several other brands. It's not my favorite beer, but I do like it. I also live in TexMex land close to one of its breweries in Monterrey, Mexico. If I were farther away, I would not chose it because of concern that it may have been too long in the bottle/can, and, as most beers will do over time, had turned "vile" (Hi @GILL I). I think there's a negative correlation between the distance away from the brewery and the beer's drinkability; as the former goes up, the latter goes down.

Leapfinger 5:24 PM  

@Carol Spradling, womanhood wise indeed! It is in fact an issue of a viscid spacebar, but would that invalid ate my goatit? I could be lurid by those beaches you mention but not by the insipid drink that @Gill described.

So @NCA President likes Puns & Anagrams??!? Well ROLL me OVER and call me IRA!

Sandy 5:53 PM  

Amen. Or just stop blogging about the NYT altogether!

Steve J 6:36 PM  

I'm often not in sync with Joe Krozel's puzzles, but this one did indeed seem pretty easy once I got a couple toeholds and erased a couple false starts. I suppose it has to be on the easy side with 26 unchecked squares. Like Rex and others, the X and the K were the last to fall for me, and the K finally enabled me to realize PEAK was the answer at 46D (which I needed, because I was never going to get NIPA).

I liked it overall. There's a couple awkward bits, but overall this was pretty smooth for a non-standard puzzle.

As to the week of non-standard puzzles: I've been a bit underwhelmed. I don't think anyone's lying or trying to pull something over everyone. I think they're just guilty of what pretty much everyone promoting anything is typically guilty of: hyperbole. No, nothing this week is terribly new (I'd argue that none of it is). But they've been a departure from the NYT's norm. That meets the letter of the law, if not the spirit.

It will be interesting to see how the week closes out. And I hope the NYT puzzle doesn't just leave trying things it finds different to one week.

Z 6:55 PM  

The thing about English speakers is the propensity to take nouns and make them verbs. ROLLOVER AN IRA turns up a goodly number of hits when entered into a search engine. The dictionaries haven't caught up yet, but "rollover" as a verb is hardly unusual.

I was surprised that the SeX-ers didn't complain about the MOANER clue, or at least suggest a happier ending.

Anonymous 7:06 PM  

Read the note again - carefully this time. Then reconsider the Harper's cryptic comparison. Good then.

RAD2626 7:34 PM  

Started very slow with MENOTTI and not much else but got progressively easier. Must have required some caffeine. Made me sad to see RITTER as the answer to old time sitcoms. First, because I do not think of them as old time (@lms Sargeant Bilco is in fact old time -and brings back great memories), but more importantly, how young Jon Ritter died. Saddened me during what was otherwise a fun solve.

I think the puzzles have all been both interesting and different all week, and all marvels of construction. While not as much fun as last year's meta puzzle, a well thought out and executed week.

Unanymous 7:40 PM  

What @LobsterXI said.

mac 8:03 PM  

This routine is beginning to feel like a museum creating a show out of stuff in their collection/basement. Clearly the puzzles were not created specifically for this week.

Very easy but not bad at all. I thought of "build a nest egg" before roll over an ira appeared, and several words had to be helped by crosses (tecates, Lin and Nipa).

Thanks, Rex!

Happy Pencil 8:11 PM  

Late to post but just wanted to remark on the beauty of the grid art. Wow! Overall, my solving experience was much like Rex's, with the pangram helping me finish, albeit with ZEN and CURATED, both of which I had trouble seeing.

I've enjoyed this week of new (or not-so-new, depending on your POV) ideas, even if the results have been spotty. And props to Rex for posting all the negative comments from the nattering nabobs, any one of which he could have moderated out of existence.

Okay, off to watch the Jays thump KC!

KevinDenelsbeck 8:30 PM  

I'm liking all the puzzles this week. Before I got the online subscription, I used to just buy the newsstand NYT for Thurs-Fri-Sat and do those puzzles; now, I often do the whole week while relaxing after work. So I don't have 1/10th the exposure to crosswords that RP has. That said, I've solved what I thought were really great puzzles and been surprised to see RP have issues (sometimes major issues) with them. It's his blog, he can be disappointed or upset if he wants, but I will say: I'm not sure what it would take to get a truly ecstatic reaction from him. RP, what recent puzzles (say, within the last year) would you consider the stars?

GILL I. 8:34 PM  

@Anoa Roberto...OK...I'll be the first to admit I really know very little about beer. Thanks to out friend @Z, I've learned a bit more than I ever did. But I've been travelling to all parts of Mexico for the last 40 plus years - I practically lived there - and I never EVER met one single Mexican that drank TECATE. Pacifico si and at Christmas time Noche Bueno. TECATE is for Americanos....;-)

Dorothy Biggs 8:55 PM  

@Leapfinger: I know, right? While I am an avowed (and outspoken, at times) hater of the Pun, I like the P&A puzzles because they are basically two puzzles in one. There's the clue/answer part, but there is also deciphering which part of the clue (or any at all) is the salient part to the actual answer, which usually has little to do with the face value clue. I wouldn't make a steady diet of them, but I do binge solve those like others binge watch "LA Law" or "Thirty-Something" on Netflix.

Music man 9:07 PM  

Last letter was the p in PEAK, followed by OHHHHHH NICE! TGIF is right my friend, TGI F* F. Some answers seemed a little forced, but I enjoyed it.

Z 10:27 PM  

Since @Gill I sort of asked, TECATE has been owned by Heineken since 2010. Supposedly, the lime thing is a British sailor import (a scurvy prophylactic). As far as I can tell, Heineken's ownership has had only one marked change, an increase in advertising spending (Heineken also owns Dos Equis). Finally, to anyone who claims to discern a difference between TECATE, Corona, Sol, PBR, Bud, Miller, Labatt's, et cetera, I suggest a blind taste test. If that's what you're drinking, buy on price (if your bad experience with a beer was a draught, the culprit was more likely the bar, not the brew - my microbrewer friends are always concerned about the cleanliness of draught lines) Now, off to pour a Two-Hearted Ale.

Unknown 1:02 AM  

DPT is a three-in-one shot. Diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus. And much like this puzzle, a pain in the rear.

Anonymous 1:20 AM  

Lo & behold, Rex is disappointed with the "pomposity" of this week's crossword themes.
Thou shall all bow before the King of Crosswords...errrrr....Humility.

Leapfinger 8:35 AM  


I liked your Dad KOD piece.

Aketi 11:46 AM  

Haven't had time fir crossword puzzles in a long time, I managed to get PEAK because I watched Everest and then became so obsessed with what drives people to climb it that I binge read books and movies for a week or two

Mary 9:35 AM  

The Star-Tribune left off the last word in Clue 46D and all of 49, 51 and 52. "Where people are drawn to" (missing "scale") did NOT help me come up with "peak" but I remembered nipa for a type of palm and used a process of elimination to place T, M, and W in the other blank spaces, leaving only K to fill that last edge space. I came here to see if the omission of the clues was part of the puzzle and to understand why people were drawn to peaks. I have never heard of a "Procedures" manual, and I've been subjected to many "Procedure" manuals. I have rolled over some IRAs and can't imagine why someone would have read that answer as "rollover" an IRA.

rondo 9:59 AM  

EZ, for a pangram (usually disliked) with all those unchecked letters (supposedly against the rules). Huh. I’ve done some Swedish xwords and you might see a grid that appears somewhat like this one, with more black squares in the inner regions, not unusual to have unchecked letters in those. A pangram in Swedish would be a bit harder since there are three more vowels to consider.

I guess the closest thing to a yeah baby today is Britney in the clue for OOPSIDIDITAGAIN, which I will admit was my very first entry. Who’da thunkit?

Just hope tomorrow’s nonsense will be RAISINGTHEBAR. Maybe I’ll go see what the WSJ has today.

rondo 10:06 AM  

OOPS - yeah baby wild child MILEY.

Burma Shave 10:14 AM  


The NEW PROCEDUREMANUAL stresses prudence.
Don’t say, “OOPSIDIDITAGAIN and gone too HIGH and far


spacecraft 11:59 AM  

Earlier we had SPACEY; today CRAFTY. Aw gee guys, ya shouldn't have.

I have to record a DNF on this one; I have never in my life heard of the expression "Dad BOD." Given the parenthetical addendum, this phrase makes absolutely NO SENSE to me. I went with gOD, as in, he thinks he's omnipotent or something. Oh, the alphabet thing? We syndies are not privileged to receive accompanying notes, and I never noticed the uniqueness of all the single letters. Though I'd have appreciated the heads-up, I still take the blame for not seeing the border pangram.

Maybe I could cry "no fair" and not count that one, but there was another place that stymied me. That diabolical clue for 46-down, where I had _EA_, forced me into the other half of the natick, so ASALASTRESORT I had to scan the dictionary for NI_A palms. Nobody but a dedicated botanist has a shot at knowing that. After I found the P, I worked out PEAK; CRAFTY clue indeed.

Come to think of it, had I seen the pangram pattern (and why wouldn't I? The letters certainly didn't spell out anything, which was an early disappointment), I might have narrowed 3 and 46 down to B and K; BOD has to be better than KOD, and with _EAK I could have run down that P. All right, I claim a DNF* with the * standing for Why Don't You Print The WHOLE Puzzle, Notes And All, Mr. Publisher? Grrr. B.

spacecraft 1:33 PM  

You know, the more I look at that 3-down clue, the more I'm bothered. "Not exactly the male ideal?" I'm sorry, but what better thing can a man be than a dad? It's certainly the crowning achievement of MY life. I HATE that clue, whatever the hell it means. I just had to come back and say that.

rain forest 1:57 PM  

The note about the pangram was there in my paper, so that was a huge help. Never heard of DadBOD, but I get the inference. Me, I have the Grandad BOD as someone mentioned.

For a Friday puzzle, this was easier than most, but much fun to do. Almost thought the first name on PBS was Mavis, but remembered DPT in time. Never heard of a TAVIS.

It's been a good week of 'different' puzzles, and of course some of them are riffs on well-known themes because what else could they be? At any rate, this one was the best so far. Tomorrow, I'm betting on a Steinberg.

leftcoastTAM 2:19 PM  

This was on the easy Friday side.

Most longs became gettable with a few crosses, but PROCEDUREMANUAL was the last to go.

VISCID was new to me, while viscous is familiar. Dad BOD is new, too, but not something I will add to my vocabulary. The B came with elimination of all other letters of the alphabet.

The NEW thing to me about this puzzle is the black and white checkered edge. Otherwise, as Rex noted, it's just a pangram.

rondo 3:26 PM  

@spacey - RE: the Dad BOD answer. The only reason I got that one was from the comic strip "Dustin" which runs in the St. Paul Pioneer Press. A couple of weeks ago the strip focused on Dustin's rather portly dad reading a magazine headline about the "Dad BODy"; he thought it was cool until the other family members pointed out that it really wasn't. The things I learn from the comics . . .

Waxy in Montreal 5:11 PM  

Easy enough Friday though, as an educator (somewhat EMERITus), I have issues with FAILINGSTUDENTS as any measure of a school's success! Methinks just the opposite.

Naticked at DPT/TAVIS.

When I started work in industry many moons back, our how-to guide was called the STANDARDSMANUAL - fits into 1D as well.

Unknown 12:18 AM  

Thursday all week long...ugh.

CathyM 11:53 AM  

Way late (was saving the puzzles from this week for vacation). I finished with the same "P" as others.

My newspaper--Sacramento Bee--published the pangram note *with the previous puzzle* which threw me off on that one for a long time on that one. There should be standards!

I enjoyed this but I rarely complete a Friday, so take my opinion as a semi-skilled puzzler.

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