Acronym for outdoor fantasy game / WED 8-10-16 / Warm alpine wind / Turkish brandy / Part of neutron's makeup / South African tongue / Thompson aka Honey Boo Boo

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Constructor: David C. Duncan Dekker

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: QUINTUPLE (33A: Like each letter of the alphabet in this puzzle, at minimum) — all letters of alphabet appear in grid at least five clues, which you probably gathered from such activities as "reading the clue"

Word of the Day: RAKI (3D: Turkish brandy) —
Rakı (Turkish: Rakı, Ottoman Turkish: راقى, pronounced [ɾaˈkɯ]) is an unsweetened, anise-flavored alcoholic drink that is popular in Turkey, Greece, Iran, Turkic countries, and in the Balkan countries as an apéritif. It is often served with seafood or meze. It is similar to several other alcoholic beverages available around the Mediterranean and the Middle East, e.g. pastis, ouzo, sambuca, arak, Aragh Sagi and aguardiente. In Turkey, it is considered a national drink. (wikipedia)
• • •

Pangrams are stupid, so this is 5 x stupid. QUINTUPLE stupid. That must be some kind of record. Not wasting my time. I am sorry that I am not sorry.

Gonna go hang out with my dog, who has been sick. Later.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:06 AM  

Gotta disagree with Rex on this one.

Easy-medium for me and very impressive. I'm mostly neutral about pangrams but this one was a trip and a first. Liked it.

A föhn is the German version of a Santa Ana.

Charles Flaster 12:12 AM  

Quite an achievement with two mistakes--
RAKe for RAKI and FOrN for FOHN.
DAY SPA was only bit of creative cluing.
No room for any CrosswordEASE.
Four consecutive Q's cannot be easy.
Thanks DCDD.

Scott 12:19 AM  

I generally don't care about pan grams, but this impressed me. Could've given an easier clue for JAKE, given that it was crossing RAKI- both stumpers for me. But quite a sight to see all those Qs lined up like that, not to mention the rest.

allan 12:22 AM  

My reaction upon finishing was why? @rex's write up is perfect.

Dr. Bunger 12:23 AM  

I know more than a little bit about Melville's great novel, being that I pretty much steal Chapter 100, but I could have sworn that there was no hyphen between MOBY and Dick. After consulting my two editions at hand,"Bless my soul, and curse the foul fiend's." (Ahab's soul.)

Larry Gilstrap 12:44 AM  

Bunger, you are a great man. "I'd rather be killed by you than kept alive by any other man." But in the real world, RAZZ/twit are synonyms in some dictionary I should consult? Perhaps, the scientific minds on this panel could elucidate the subtle differences between a DOWNQUARK and an upQUARK, or a sidewaysQUARK? Remember Nestle's Quik? Shouldn't ACIDJAZZ be five times something for symmetry?

Meghan 12:54 AM  

There are six "flavors" of quarks: up, down, top, bottom, strange, and charmed. They have different properties and in different combinations form various particles

Da Bears 1:16 AM  

Long before Rex posted his non-critique, I wrote on Wordplay: The one reason I like this puzzle is that I want to see what Rex says. Personally , the puzzle is okay and remarkable in being fairly free of crud fill with the constraints. I like those four Qs in the center.

I feel bad for Rex.

David Krost 1:17 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Krost 1:20 AM  

As usual, Rex is being overly curmudgeonly. A quintuple pangram in a normal sized puzzle is remarkable, especially when it manages to get in the answers "quintuple" and " fivefold". The only thing better would have been if he could have fit in "high five". Leave it to Rex to be so narrow minded that an outstanding tour de force, even if it is a modality he doesn't like, can't get any appreciation from him. That is the very definition of a small and snobby mind.

Anonymous 1:44 AM  

Have you ever constructed a published crossword puzzle, let alone one that other published constructor's couldn't fathom tackling?!

You're a one-sided, half-witted crit that generates a following or an interest in your crit chit because you're sooooo NOT controversial! - You're a predictable, washed-up hack!

Warning: This comment may get deleted due to one-sidedness.

Dreisands 1:59 AM  

You can both acknowledge that this was a fear of construction and still have not an enjoyable experience solving it. I mean sure, it's great he was able to use every letter five times, but then you miss out on any interesting long answers and are stuck with such short dreck like JAGR and FOHN. I don't need to enjoy watching the cruciverbalist equivalent of onanism and it's certainly not closed minded to not enjoy trying to solve the result.

Anonymous 2:00 AM  


KFC 2:34 AM  

@da bears/JFC/ John from Chicago - I see your pathological obsession with all things Rex continues.

@Anon 1:44 - check the NYT archives for Michael Sharp puzzles. Trust me, they are there.


Eat more chicken!

Ampersand 2:43 AM  

My favorite part of the puzzle was reading this blog post about it. My second favorite part of the puzzle was DOWN QUARK, which is a great entry. ACID JAZZ is nice, too. Finally, the center of the puzzle could be a word ladder (Rex's other favorite crossword phenomenon!):

This was a very silly thing. Let's not do it again.

Loren Muse Smith 2:50 AM  

I wasn't even a third of the way in when I already had that nifty Q staircase in place with its K staircase underneath it. And I had I think two V's in, too, so I sensed something was up. But I never could've seen this one coming. When I finally let myself see the reveal, I was incredulous. No way. Then to have FIVE FOLD in there, too… Wow.

Stunt puzzles – pangrams, only 17 blocks, Schrödingers, a quintuple stack, only one vowel, I get a kick out of them. So one man's stupid is another's cool.

I erased SQFT to fit in "snarf" or "scarf" for 30A. But I sorted that all out and learned that you can QUAFF something. Never knew that. No, Jaromir. You can't play Pokemon Go until you've finished your peas and quaffed down that grape Kool-Aid.

"Grief" before GRAVY. Bet there are a bajillion of us on that one this morning.

I had a dnf because I forgot to guess at the cross of 16A/3D - JAKE/RAKI. I'm not sure I'd have guessed K, though.

@Ampersand – good catch on the word ladder.

I'm glad to have solved this. It's one I won't forget any time soon. I tell ya – five of each letter is great, but to add in that QUINTUPLE and FIVE-FOLD. Mic drop, either one, man.

chefwen 2:51 AM  

I'm with @ Larry Gilstrap, where is it shown that RAZZ = TWIT?

Ease up on Rex, he's got a sick puppy, anyone with a ailing pet has tunnel vision. I wouldn't give this one an "F" but it wasn't up there in my all time favorites.

chefwen 2:54 AM  

Maybe AN ailing would work better.

Karen Strong 3:15 AM  

@Anon 1:44 - Why yes, Rex Parker has constructed crossword puzzles. Very good ones. Including a suite of puzzles to raise money for Red Cross disaster relief after Superstorm Sandy hit. Which is still front and center on his blog, so not sure how you missed it. Except that apparently you were only focused on spreading bile about someone you clearly don't know, accusing him of exactly the same unfair criticism which you yourself so unnecessarily personally attacked him with. He is an incredibly nice, generous, funny, and down to earth individual who I had the fortune to chat with at my first two puzzle tournaments ever (earlier this year). I'm a nobody, but he treated me like I belonged there, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Dan Feyer and Tyler Hinman. Yes, his quality standards for NYT crosswords are high, but for good reason. There is a wealth of independent puzzles available outside the NYT world that, on average, are head and shoulders above the "gold-standard" NYT. More clever, more contemporary, edgier, and tougher. Trying a few might relieve you of some of your own one-sidedness. EIther way, give yourself and Rex Parker readers relief by not reading this blog any more if it inspires such vitriol in you.

Martín Abresch 3:19 AM  

One of my absolute favorite tracks of all time is ACID_JAZZ: US3's "Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)". (It might have something to do with me being a trumpeter back in the 90s when I was in high school and college.)

A former co-worker of mine used to go LARPing on the weekends. That's Live Action Role Playing, a.k.a. getting together with friends, dressing up as fantasy characters, going to a park, and pretending to do battle. Along with LARP, DOWN_QUARK and the WEST_BANK make their first appearances in the New York Times. Those three are quality entries.

So I got some pleasure from this puzzle, and I am impressed at this spectacle grid. Given the massive restrictions, the fill could be worse.

Of course, if the spectacle doesn't impress you, the fill is a horror: SRAS, A_MAJ, TSWANA, I_HAVE, MYOB, N_MEX, RAKI, DJED, RAJAH, ALANA, JAGR, SQFT, SFPD, JIVER, FOHN, DXIX. This puzzle is all about the grid and the constructor: there's little pleasure in the solving experience. There isn't a single clue worth noting. I absolutely agree with @Dreisands that it is not closed-minded to dislike this solving experience.

@Anyonymous (1:44 am) - Michael Sharp has constructed quality puzzles, both for the NYTimes and for other outlets. You, on the other hand, are not only ignorant and anonymous, you are boring. Learn to write better insults.

Dolgo 3:48 AM  

I had a Fulbright to Bulgaria in 2983-84. They call it takes, but don't tell 'em it has anything to do with Turkish raki (which is spelled without the dot over the "I," BTW!

Dolgo 3:49 AM  

RAKIA (Damn that auto spelling correction!).

Anonymous 6:11 AM  

Those that can, do. Those that can't, teach comic books.

Lewis 6:41 AM  

Stunt puzzles can sometimes be a lousy solving experience, and then blame needs to go to the ego of the constructor. But I found this fun to solve, with its scrabbly-ness (a good puzzle to follow Acme's yesterday) and playfulness (the Q and K lines, DIVER/FIVER, QUINTUPLE/FIVEFOLD).

When it makes for a satisfying and fun solve and is a stunt to boot, then it becomes special. Excellent one, DCDD!

smalltowndoc 6:59 AM  

I think Rex was overly harsh on this one. It's quite a feat of construction, although the theme was easy to guess early on. For some reason, I had the most trouble in the NW. The Apple clue left me clueless (bad pun; sorry), and in my house we have two IMACs!

The fill was pretty bad, indeed. But I disagree with those who have a problem with JAGR. He is widely believed to be among the greatest players in the history of the NHL (kind of like "Orr", who shows up all the time, and no one complains), and is the leading point scorer among all active hockey players.

Now, ORR and JAGR in the same puzzle might be a bit much except to the most ardent hockey fan!

Ted Cole 7:25 AM  

Constructor's initials remind me of some of my report cards.

Hartley70 7:28 AM  

Well this might have been fun to solve if I could have solved it. The RAKI/JAKE cross, RAZZ, TSWANA, DOWNQUARK, ELSA, LARP, FOHN, GRAVY were complete unknowns. I was too dopey to get SQFT, although I admire it. Oh ALANA, I like pop culture, but I can't go there. I just can not. I'd feel so much better if this was Saturday.

Wow, was my reaction to the grid. The Qs, the Ks, the Zs really gave me a kick. I was busy ogling around looking for 5 of the more obscure letters. I was impressed, but it was giving me a "jumble" feeling and I detest jumbles, so I quit.

So here's my grade this morning. Puzzle A-. Me F. Is there still time to sign up for summer school?0

emspop1 7:28 AM  

The NYT crossword is a great source of pleasure for me. It's how I start almost every day. I can't be alone in liking (very much) Will Shortz AND Rex's blog. I admire the work and perspectives of both on a daily basis. This kind of over-the-top negative reaction somehow bumps me a little off. I had a typical day solving the puzzle. Felt like a lot of abbreviations but I can't help but admire the challenge that the constructor met in creating this puzzle. B+ For me in Rex's new grading system. Hoping for a little less snark in the future. I get plenty of that elsewhere.

Hartley70 7:34 AM  

How could I forget to add JAGR to the WTF list? Thank you @smalltowndoc.

Anonymous 7:39 AM  

Fohn crossing Orix? Or Hemi, which could as well be Semi?

Anonymous 7:41 AM  

Also: Tswana crossing Alana? Pick a consonant and you're home.

prandolph 7:44 AM  

Took me a while to get started , then noticed all the Qs , Zs , etc. Fun puzzle and impressive. Liked it.

Cassieopia 7:45 AM  

This was not my cup of tea for solving enjoyment, but I was blown away by the constructor's skill. A Really Impressive Puzzle. I give Rex's thoroughly ungracious write up a pass this time because his dog is ill - sorry to hear that.

kitshef 7:45 AM  

As soon as I sussed the gimmick I knew Rex would hate this, which is pity as there is much to love: QUINTUPLE, ACIDJAZZ, DOWNQUARK, ORYX, QUAFF. We get puzzles with worse fill twice a week, with much less ambitious themes.

Two-square DNF for me at ZEst/LsRP/EtSA, not knowing Mrs. Einstein nor anything about outdoor fantasy games.

@Larry Gilstrap - Down quarks have a negative charge (unlike up, charm or top quarks) and are lightweight, stable particles (like up, but unlike strange or bottom quarks).

Anonymous 7:47 AM  

Agree with @Dreisands. Impressive construction, but not much fun to solve.

Jordan Silverstein 7:51 AM  

Curmudgeonly... Exactly my thinking.

Anonymous 7:58 AM  

Rex was very quick to judge here. It's easy to see that he has boxed his life in. He ragged on pangrams so long he can't see a good one. But that's the way PC people are; quick to judge and tunnel vision. Must be a difficult life when you've placed so many constraints on yourself.

Z 7:59 AM  

Some feel the feat was worth the compromises. Not I. DXIX for II of your V Xes is cheating in my humble opinion, so DCDD didn't actually cross the finish line. Or, he did, but he used performance enhancing RRNs. Fine if you're Russian, but not up to snuff for us patriotic Americans. Now go slap some water.*

I am still pangnostic. I've done worse puzzles than this.

*Do I really need to explain the joke? Probably. But I'm guessing that most of you will figure out that I'm throwing a little shade at self-righteous sports fans and athletes.

Annette 8:00 AM  

No joy in this, even though the fiviness of it was impressive. I don't mind not knowing a bit, but there were too many WOEs shoehorned in the the sake of the five, JAGR, JAKE, HEMI, ACIDJAZZ, and FOHN among them. Stopped 3/4 the way through just to see what Rex said, and he didn't disappoint.

Chaos344 8:01 AM  

I thought the puzzle was interesting, and I appreciate the feat of construction. About average for my Wednesday time.

Hope your dog feels better soon Rex. Maybe a JV win tonight will lift your spirits?

Aketi 8:06 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
johnnymcguirk 8:07 AM  

I wasn't mad about this one. Took me a few minutes longer than my average Wednesday time. I admired the cleverness but didn't enjoy it. As for the critique, about what is expected from our supercilious reviewer. Puzzle:C. Review:F

Scott 8:08 AM  

Jaromir JAGR is one of the most famous hockey players of all time, and a perfectly reasonable Wednesday crossword answer, particularly with a gimme clue.

Mohair Sam 8:10 AM  

Rex and I agree on big dogs, detective fiction, old movies, and pangrams. I QUINTUPLE disliked this one too. Even those of you praising this effort are mumbling about fill, wondering how twit=RAZZ (because RAZZ has two z's that's how), and cheerfully discovering the FOHN (on a Wednesday no less). Listen, I like discovering new things in the puzzle, it's part of the fun. But ALANA? God help us.

When I got by ACIDJAZZ and the strained RAZZ to BBQ I knew I was in pangram territory and scanned for the Roman numeral clue, you can count on them in pangrams - or XEROX - today we got both.

Admittedly this was a wonderful feat of construction. Yes - I'm impressed. But as a solving experience it left me flat. Although it was neat to learn that QUARKs had directions.

The HEMI, btw, is an over-rated, inefficient, engineering fiasco. But it sold well.

Didn't know Moby was hyphenated.

pmdm 8:18 AM  

If you come across something you don't want to like but can't think of how to knock it down, you just cop out and say nothing. Might that be what happened today?

For interesting observations, try going to XINFO.

Generic Solver 8:27 AM  

The issue here is whether the primary purpose of a puzzle is to show off a construction feat, or to amuse the solver. Given that I'm paying for a NYT Crosswords subscription, I'd vote for the latter. These "constructor feat" puzzles are often lacking in the "solving enjoyment" department, as was the case here.

kitshef 8:28 AM  

Several have asked about twit/RAZZ. Merriam-Webster first definition of twit as a verb: to subject to light ridicule or reproach. First definition of razz as a verb: to make playful or unkind comments about.

Tim Pierce 8:30 AM  

Disappointed in Rex for the superficial dismissal. OK, so there's nothing particularly innovative about a pangram, but for a quintuple pangram, I thought this was remarkably clean and with some excellent fill (ACIDJAZZ, WESTBANK, DOWNQUARK are standouts).

Agreed that it's not totally spotless. RAKI? JAGR? I slipped up at FOHN/ORYX (guessed FeHN/eRYX) and I do not believe JIVER is a thing. And of course the TSWANA/ALANA cross already mentioned. But, honestly? we've seen much worse get more praise. This doesn't have to be to everyone's taste, but it was clearly constructed with some considerable care.

Rex, I see your Hosuemartins video. I'm giving you five for fighting.

Kae 8:31 AM  

I always feel as if this type of puzzle is really fun and satisfying for the constructor, and much less fun and satisfying for the person solving it. I'm not sure that it adds much to the experience for me to know that all the letters appear 5 times. The frustrating thing is that there was some fun cluing and some sparkly answers in it, but the constraints led to a bunch of drek. When you start with AMAJ and IMAC and end with NMEX and DXIX...

Aketi 8:31 AM  

Hahaha, I have never liked letter grades because they are subjective unless you know the criteria for assigning the grade. I always preferred the short narratives that the elementary school teachers wrote about my son to the grades they assigned. F always feels like the clip "Godzilla meets Bambi" that ends when Bambi gets stomped flat by Godzilla,

I personally liked this ouzzle because it felt as if the PPP count was low.

I liked ORYX and TSWANA because those are in my wheelhouse and even DOWNQUARK because it wasn't that hard to suss out,

I even remembered the LFC OXEYE for a change,

I think David Duncan Dekker deserves a A In the category of sqeezing 5 copies of all the letters into a puzzle without resorting to usung a lot of double letter combos,

@lewis, there were only 6 sets of doubled consonants and 1 set of doubled vowels, 7 in total. What's the lowest you've ever spotted?

Plus there was that nice little U ladder for M&A.

NCA President 8:37 AM  

"all letters of alphabet appear in grid at least five clues, which you probably gathered from such activities as 'reading the clue'" I've read Rex's explanation of the theme several times here and still don't know what it means. But reading through the comments, am I understanding that the theme is that all 26 letters of the alphabet appear 5 times?

TIL that Rex hates pangrams worse than I hate puns. His write up is exactly the kind of write up I would do with some of the pun-laden puzzles of the past. I know he is not a big pun fan, but I never thought he could dislike anything more. In fairness, if you hate pangram puzzles, then a QUINTUPLE version of it is going to send you over the top. Fair enough. And with that puzzle that used only 5 letters, Rex is certainly on record as not liking these kinds of puzzles at all.

The ALANA/TSWANA crossing was close to a natick because I don't watch whatever show "Alana" is on or know what the South Africans speak outside of some Dutch and Afrikaans. Or whatever they speak apart from TSWANA. I was lucky on that one.

I only have a couple of nits: I like the FIVEFOLD addition there...but I don't like that it's kind of a themer and kind of not. Please be in or out. The corresponding answers (DOWNQUARK and ACIDJAZZ) are just regular words. Either a missed opportunity there or just a gratuitous meta shout out.

I respect the amount of work that must have been expended on this thing, but man, DXIX, XEROX, SQFT, QTIP, ORYX, JIVER (Jiver??) and to some extent AMAJ, mean that all the alphabet soup stops had to be pulled out. I liked the center part of the puzzle best, but those outer edges, not so much.

This kind of stunt puzzle would have been better placed on a Thursday, IMO.

Aslan Lyons 8:44 AM  

Pet's are better than games/puzzles, as my cat keeps telling to stop messing with the Pokemon app and play with her instead.

Hope your dog is better today, Rex.

Howard Flax 8:53 AM  

Thanks Rex! This puzzle is purely a feat of the constructor. The solve was so tedious and not fun, that it is essentially the antithesis of what a good crossword should be.

Hope your dog get's better soon!

deerfencer 8:54 AM  

Cool puzzle. Thanks, David C Duncan Dekker--that's quite the handle!

toothdoc 8:56 AM  

I can both admire the complexity of the construction and loathe the solving experience. It is no different than admiring the architectural design of a home but knowing that it was designed to be seen, not lived in. This puzzle was designed for us to say "wow, that was hard to create" but what we want is a puzzle that brings joy in the solve.

Wm. C. 8:56 AM  

@GenericSolver8:27 --

As I read the blog comments above I was casting about in my mind trying to decide how to voice my dissatisfaction. List the dreck fill? (But it was already done above, although the valid point was also made that it was necessary to pull off the conceit.) Express my frustration with the experience?

Your post sums things up perfectly, though. We're paying for an enjoyable experience, not a show-off display by a constructor! Deliver on that please, Mr. Shortz.

jberg 9:10 AM  

I had to cheat for the FOHN/HEMI thing, but I still liked it. I'm pretty sure about 8 or 10 years ago there was a puzzle where every letter was used twice, and @Rex praised it, making the point that pangrams are bad when they mess up the theme, but in this case the pangram was the theme, and that was fine. I don't have time to search for it, though.

@chefwen and others, it's 'twit' as a verb -- "he twitted me about my being obsessed with grammar," could be "he razzed me..."

Gotta run, will try to look back later.

Ellen S 9:18 AM  

So, did @Rex not "waste his time" doing the puzzle, in which case he missed a good romp, or not waste his time evaluating it just because it was a pangram? I enjoyed it except for the RRN. I only got stuck around that JAGR person crossing ACID JAZZ, and having GRief instead of GRAVY for too long.

No BS 9:21 AM  
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crabsofsteel 9:23 AM  

Definitely better than an F. I learned several new words, like Fohn and Tswana.

Anonymous 9:30 AM  

good blog, bro.

Mike Rees 9:30 AM  

Big words from an anonymous poster.

Anonymous 9:34 AM  

Aced everything but the NW. JAKE, RAKI, and ACIDjazz were all entirely new and befuddling.

Nancy 9:37 AM  

An extremely difficult -- and, to me, completely pointless -- job of construction has led to some really, really ugly fill. LARP! JAGR! RAKI! DXIX! FOHN! Should I have known TSWANA? Did you? (Going back to read you all to find out.) Seems like it's struck a nerve on the blog, because there were 60 comments by 9:20 a.m. -- more than you sometimes get in an entire day. I found this choppy and ungraceful, and all the cross referencing made it even more annoying. Rex's grade may be a bit harsh. Then, again, perhaps not.

chefbea 9:42 AM  

63 comments already!!!! DNF. No time now to read all the posts. What is out door fantasy game = larp????
and what is myob???
Will read the comments later

Don McBrien 9:54 AM  


Live Action Role Playing (I never heard of it either).

And mind your own business!

Cheerio 9:54 AM  

I agree with Hartley70. I liked the odd fill because you want your crosswordese to be interesting and changeable. Many of these were new to me and reasonably curious. I also like the repeated use of difficult letters. Natural affinity between scrabble and crosswords. Nice puzzle!

Anne Meilof 9:56 AM  

MYOB is Mind Your Own Business. I think Ann Landers used it quite a lot.

Ellen S 9:58 AM  

@chefbea -- as explained above (I didn't know either), LARP is 'Live Action Role Playing". I guess that is what my former neighbors would do most weekends -- dress in medieval costume and go at each other with Nerf swords, outside on their front lawn, in front of God and everyone. And MYOB, golly, I thought everyone knew that, but maybe I just get told it so often that it's no problem remembering: Mind Your Own Business.

BTW - I didn't object to that hockey person, I just never heard of him. Same as you hockey fans may have trouble with classical music references. I have no trouble when ORR appears in a clue. I have no idea about his scoring history, or what team he is associated with, or even what hockey teams there are: if it's a three letter hockey clue, the answer is ORR. And--same thing for baseball: if it's a three letter baseball clue, it's OTT. Or the other way around, for all I know. I don't mind when I've never heard of them. I mind when they've been in so many puzzles that their names are familiar, even if otherwise I have never heard of them.

I agree with the argument that the point of the puzzle should be the solver's experience, not a construction stunt. But that didn't stop me from enjoying this one.

Nancy 10:07 AM  

Wonderful comments so far from people who understand that the first obligation of a constructor is to provide an enjoyable solving experience. Special kudos to @Dreisands (1:59) for the onanism metaphor; to @Allan (12:22) for why?; to @Mohair (8:10) for his QUINTUPLE disliking; to @toothdoc (8:56) for his home designed to be seen, not lived in metaphor. Kudos also to @Generic solver; @Kae and @Wm.C, among many others. Listen up, Will and show-off-y constructors everywhere. Just because you can do it doesn't mean you should.

mathgent 10:11 AM  

As @Nancy put it: "Choppy and ungraceful."

I don't follow hockey at all, but JAGR was familiar from headlines that I couldn't avoid on the sports pages.

I did like having all those uncommon letters in the grid, especially the Q staircase.

Unknown 10:12 AM  

I think this puzzle was more for the benefit of the constructor than the solver. I prefer puzzles where the theme provides an "Aha!" moment, which when discovered, allows the solver to work through the rest of the puzzle more easily. This was more of an "Oh, ok" moment, that occurred after filling in the grid clue-by-clue. I did like the fact that Honey Boo-boo's real name, which no one should be expected to know was easy to fill with the crosses. No Natick here. (Although I am, in fact, in Natick MA right now)

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

Awful. Just awful. I'd rather pull all of the teeth out of my mouth.

GILL I. 10:17 AM  

I can't make up my mind about the puzzle. I started it last night but I put it down because I was watching the million re-runs of Phelps looking like he wanted to RAZZ the PEAS out of TSWANA. What a RAKE of a guy.
Anyway, finished it this AM. I thought it was fun...An F is so cruel. Imagine David having this goal in mind because he likes pangrams and he wants to do something no one else has done. He does it..JAGR, LARP and FOHN be damn. I don't particularly like sports themed puzzles, but I always hope to learn something along the way. BEQ got me to love loopy cluing and names of rap singers. Rex has me looking for all the things he hates, and I can count on @jae to be the first, happy and upbeat poster.
I love Good GRAVY and FAVA beans, FUZZY PEAS, but not a brandy with the name RAKI. tiki taki raki.....

AskGina 10:19 AM  

This was a top notch, gratifying puzzle experience. Some wanky stuff? Yeah. But such a tiny bit and so worth the fun. I fought my way through it happily and dnf at that nasty little 53 - 56 down corner. But that was pure bone headedness on my part. Kept thinking Limes disease but it didn't fit. And somewhere in my younger brain I KNEW it was Lyme. Knew someone who had it. I just kept putting in different combos of right and wrong words. But that was my fault. And I learned LARP and acid jazz! I'll use them to fake some hipness with my kids. A+

AskGina 10:20 AM  

Btw, Mr. B, where are you!

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:20 AM  

Honey boo-boo in a NYTimes puzzle??????

Plunked down AMAJ first thing and thought I was on my way, but couldn't finish the corner, and couldn't get out of it. I play in a swing orchestra and I have never heard of ACIDJAZZ. To each his own.

Roo Monster 10:25 AM  

Hey All !
Handidly disagree with Rex today. An F? Really? More like at least a B+. To be able to make a QUINTUPLE pangram in a 15x15 puzzle is staggering. And to end up with just light dreck considering the restraints is mind bending. Every puzzle has dreck. It's inevitable. Rex knows this, as some times his comments say something like, "Should've reworked that corner for cleaner fill." But to only have a little bit that some people are complaining about in this type puzzle is amazing. I don't think that this stunt in any way took away from the solving experience. In fact, it seemed to enhance it as you wondered where all the letters would fit. DCDD at least made most fill real-world words. I think the fault lies more in some of the cluing rather than the fill. In a puz such as this, the clues should be a little more straightforward.

Another ridiculously hard thing David accomplished is only deviating from 5 of each letter a few times. All the vowels (except the tortured U, sorry M&A) are more, A-27, E-17, I-10, O-8, U-5. And just 3 common use letters in English were more, L-6, R-13, S-8. All the rest were 5, B,C,D,F,G,H,J,K,M,N,P,Q,T,V,W,X,Y,Z. Yes, I counted them all because I was so impressed by this puz.

If you remember the last time we had a 4x pangram, the fill was less lively as this one. Plus a 5 letter StairStep in the center. YEESH!

So to say I liked this is an understatement. Like I've said many times before, Puzzles=some dreck. There's no way around that. This should've been a good time-solve it seems. Why one dreckful puz differs from solving experience than a well made stunt puz like this is a mystery. Just sayin.

Keep up the phenomenal puzs DCDD!


chefbea 10:30 AM  

Thanks all for the explanations !!

Whirred Whacks 10:30 AM  

Liked this a lot.

Grade for Rex's write up: I (for incomplete).

It's like all he did was sign his name. (Ah, but yes, this is when the commenters really shine.)

Stanley Hudson 10:34 AM  

NYT has run much worse puzzles on Wednesdays. Not sure what all the bellyaching is about but maybe a sick pet engenders pure cussedness.

John V 10:34 AM  

I'm reminded that because something CAN be done does not mean it SHOULD be done. This sort of stunt where the construction has nothing else to say for itself other than its technical accomplishment is not terribly interesting to me.

Doug 10:37 AM  

I don't think Rex liked this puzzle.

Mohair Sam 10:43 AM  

Gold star to @Unknown for being in Natick, MA and selecting that screen name.

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

Can we please, please get Will and Rex some help with cars, engines pretty much everything mechanical? A hemi is not a powerful engine per se, regardless of what Dodge advertising would have you believe. Hemi is short for hemispherically shaped combustion chamber. There were ( and are) many powerful hemis. There are also plenty of hemis which aren't very powerful at all. I know it's a popular idea, but gee, it's so baldy wrong and wrong in such a predictable way, it get's me down.
No one on this board would ever let Rex or Will get away with saying, oh I don't know, that jane Austen was a Victorian novelist.

I kind of like the puzzle for what that's worth.

Carola 10:51 AM  

This one registered low on my Delight Meter. For me, the cost of executing the stunt was too high - abbreviations, arcana, and (hi, @Z) that particularly lame, I-ran-out-of-ideas DXIX in the last corner. My one bright moment was when the mental penny dropped on how "twit" = RAZZ. Nice clue.

Numinous 10:55 AM  

I have to admire the feat this puzzle represents. Apparently both Will and Joel do too. It is also some sort of record for the NYT. Highest Scrabble average ever and the only ever quintuple pangram.

I had Bise before FOHN. I thought SQFT immediately before I entered and let the crosses do it for me. I knew RAKI but had to think a bit to recall it. I liked the misdirect for the XEROX clue. Nothing here gave me any trouble, not even JAGR which I didn't know. I will say RAZZ took some getting for me and I do know twit as a form of poking fun. Only two days ago I saw a silly YouTube video about Honey BooBoo so I knew ALANA. TSWANA threw me but again, crosses covered it.

I didn't find this to be terribly challenging but I wasn't disappointed either in the solve nor in my expectations of @Rex's write-up. I know he hates these things. I guess I don't really mind either way. I have a lot of sympathy for @Rex's dog. My shiba inu has taken to chewing on the bottom of her foot and has succeeded in making it bleed a bit. Not sure if I'll have to tape it up or go back to the cone of shame.

I hope your dog is improving, Rex!

Anoa Bob 10:56 AM  

First thing I noticed about this grid was the walled-in four corners. When I started filling in, I realized why. If you're going to do a super scrabbly puzzle, then those four essentially mini-puzzles will minimize the difficulty of crossing all those Js, Xs, & Ws. Cheater squares, here in front of 5-Across & at the end of 65-Across, will help too.

I dnfed with ACID DAZE rather than JAZZ. Yes, I was flashing back to some travels during the 70's. So I have to thank the puzzle for that most pleasant little interlude.

RAZZ is one of my favorite poker games. It's the R in HORSE, an acronym for the five different games that are played in a tournament each year in Vegas to determine the best all-around poker player in the known universe.

Wm. C. 10:58 AM  

Hey, @Unknown --

My daughter lives in Natick near the center, and I was there this morning to pick up our 7-yo grand-daughter who's visiting grandpa and nana in Concord today. Rainy day, but we really need the rain here.

QuasiMojo 11:06 AM  

I nearly naticked at "Fohn"/"Hemi" but took an "educated guess" at the "h". Et voila! "Fohn" home! Lots of "razzing" today but very little razzmatazz. (But grateful we did not have to fill in another "Quidditch.")

kitshef 11:11 AM  

@Roo Monster - I counted only after my DNF, wondering if it would have saved me had I taken the time to count. I had ZEst instead of ZEAL. Alas, A and L were two of the 'more than five' letters, so counting would not have saved me.

I note even if they didn't think of Botswana, counting would have solved the TSWANA/ALANA cross, assuming that was the only blank, as the puzzle needed that fifth N.

cwf 11:11 AM  

@Rex tweeted his letter grade last night so I wasn't looking forward to this, but I was pleasantly surprised. It's a construction stunt, but it's ambitious and pulled off relatively smoothly. That said, I had a couple genuine Naticks at 11D/21A and 53D/60A. 4 words/names I have never seen before.

Joseph Michael 11:16 AM  

I don't agree that pangrams are inherently evil and that no good can come from one. Seems like an awfully rigid and limited view of the crossworld to think so.

As for this puzzle, I would give it an A+ for construction and a D-D-D for solving enjoyment, for an average grade of C. Reached a point of dnf in both the NW and SE corners and preferred to give up rather than spend another second on it. In other words, this puzzle might have been an impressive feat, but trying to solve it was just no FOHN.

The Clerk 11:18 AM  

Like it a lot. Impressive feat and everything was gettable. I don't see how a pangram itself can be objectionable: an otherwise great puzzle could even accidentally be a pangram. One may dislike the symptoms caused by a pangram's constraints, but then be clear and focus the blame on the inability to overcome the constraint and not the constraint itself.

Paul Rippey 11:33 AM  

I recently stumbled across a video of the opening of a South African rugby match, at which everyone of all races sang the beautiful national anthem Nkosi sikelel' iAfrika, which starts in Xhosha, switches to Zulu and TSWANA, and ends up in Afrikaans and English. The constraint of five languages is kinda like the constraint of this puzzle. Best national anthem anywhere I think. Look for it on YouTube.

Curleegirl 11:35 AM  

Razz for twit is just WRONG. Since I had the z from razes, I thought it was going to be bozo for twit until I realized grape was the kool-aid flavor. I've never seen razz used as a noun. Will Shortz should have caught that one.

Michelle Turner 11:44 AM  

Hear, hear!!

Mike Rees 11:56 AM  

I started doing crossword puzzles as a teenager, and have steadily worked my way (now in my forties) up to considering myself a capable solver. I now do the NYT one exclusively, when at one time I thought I'd never be able to finish even a Wednesday puzzle.

I also really, really enjoy coming here, reading the writeups, trying to guess where OFL is going to rate the difficulty, and perusing the comments. Always lots of good stuff here.

Today, I was presented with a very cool puzzle. a technical marvel that we get to see so very, very rarely here. aside from AMAJ, SRAS and perhaps the Roman numerals, I don't see any recycled, used-in-every-other-puzzle nonsense (big hand up for no US colleges, no obscure directional clues, no airport messaging abbreviations, no Greek letters, etc.).

This was a challenging solve because it was loaded with brilliantly overlaid unusual words. There's a bare minimum of garbage (especially considering the "theme") and almost everything unknown could be inferred.

This puzzle gets an A+ from me, seriously, for the originality and depth of construction. I knew Rex was going to hate it, but I didn't think he'd dismiss it without any sort of due process. Very disappointed with that.

Andrew Heinegg 11:57 AM  

Best comment of the day!;

Aketi 12:03 PM  

I did chuckle over the clue for PEAS as baby food. I am a pretty adventurous eater. The only two foods I HAVE NEVER eaten and will NEVER eat are palm grubs and PEAS. My mother Was mortified when I was 12 months old and my Dad invited his boss and his wife over for dinner. Apparently, I stared at the PEAS on my plate and muttered "dammit, dammit, dammit" throughout the meal.

Pete 12:04 PM  

@Curleegirl - The problem isn't that you've never seen RAZZ used as a noun, it's that you've never seen twit used as a verb, which is the case here.

I've shared the details here before, but the short version is once in grad school I got an F on an assignment. I talked to the prof, claiming my work was actually correct. His reaction was that he didn't care if it were correct, my approach was so clumsy, labored and tortuous that I clearly missed the point of what we were trying to do. He was right then, I agree with Rex now.

old timer 12:04 PM  

Mr. Dekker to OFL: "You think I'm a Scrabble-f***er? I'LL show you some Scrabble-F***ing!"

I was delighted with the experience of solving this one. One of the best parts was how Dekker was able to get most of the rarer letters in the same place, Q ladders and K ladders, 3 Z's in one place and 3 X's in another. Actually made the solve easier. So did my good luck in writing in GRAVY instead of "grief". There are many "good g-" sayings that were invented to avoid taking the Lord's name in vain, and "Good GRAVY!" is the one I always liked best.

I wonder how many of us, if we don't solve online and have no Happy Pencil to tell us we've done it, actually completed the puzzle without errors? I had these errors: "Acadjazz" and "Raka" where RAKI crosses ACIDJAZZ. And "remi" and "forn" instead of HEMI and FOHN. I kick myself for the latter error, because I know FOHN from other crosswords.

"Twit", the verb, is a synonym for RAZZ so no problem there. And a JIVER is someone who gives you a bunch of JIVE, a deceptive talker indeed. Though Way Out Willie can tell you there is nothing more wonderful than the hand JIVE. His baby can do it too.

Andrew Heinegg 12:07 PM  

Well, this one has sure brought out the full range of opinions. The pangram business is gimmicky to me but, I don't really care as long as the puzzle itself is a decent one.

With OFL having a sick pet, one can only figure that his tolerance level would be low.

I never heard of many of the answers but, because of the crosses, I solved fairly quickly and easily while thinking, of course, is that really a thing, e.g., Fohn. I thought it all added up to a decent if not terrific Wednesday solve.

Z 12:15 PM  

@Aketi - There's this thing in assessment called "inter-rater reliability." Basically, using some common standard, will a group of evaluators come up with approximately the same grade. This puzzle has no inter-rater reliability. This bothers me a lot less than others, it seems.

@Roo Monster - Huh. Thanks for all the counting. I considered doing it for about 11 nanoseconds.

@Mohair Sam - I think getting labeled "Unknown" is something Blogger does to people. I remember trying to figure out why it was happening to someone and failing. Much like the dropped comments @George Barany and @M&A were experiencing.

@Joseph Michael and @The Clerk - there have been pangrams that haven't been panned. Interestingly, Rex never mentioned that those were pangrams. In short, Rex's standard seems to be that if you realize it is a pangram it has failed.

nick 12:30 PM  

I admired this one a bit more than enjoyed it, thought the "q" word ladder in the middle was a bright spot. "Raze" crossing "West Bank" was jarring. And I confess I'm not a fan of the letter grades.

ANON B 12:32 PM  

Can someone please explain Rex's
explanation of the theme. I know
what the theme is but not his explanation
of it.

Trey 12:33 PM  

Nice to see so many comments, possibly becuase of the love it/hate it division (almost like the current election cycle). I really liked it, mainly for the mastery. In a 15x15 grid, 5 uses of each ketter leaves very little room for repeat letters or black squares (I would venture that a 6x pan gram will not be done in a grid this size). In addition, there were two theme answers (FIVEFOLD and QUINTUPLE). Some drek (actually a moderate amount) but in my mind excusable given the feat.

Rex - hope your dog feels better.

GILL I. 12:49 PM  

@Aketi: My brother hated PEAS. He would rather stuff them up his nose or in his ears than fork them in his mouth. Whenever we had them, Paul would raise his hand and loudly proclaim that it was his turn to say grace. We'd all bow our heads and close our eyes while he went on for an eternity about how God was very good and how we should thank him everyday for the fine things he gives us....all the while shoveling his PEAS in his napkin.
@Mike Rees...Nicely said. My thoughts exactly.

Joe Bleaux 1:00 PM  

Me, too, re the editor AND the blogger. And yes, a little snark goes a long way. When Parker gets his "shorts" in a wad, it kinda "wrecks" the spirit of good "will," one could say😉.

David Glasser 1:13 PM  

I nearly Naticked at both FOHN/HEMI and JAKE/RAKI, but they were both required to get the 5th K and (believe it or not) H.

Unknown 1:13 PM  

Here twit us used as a verb!

PhillySolver 1:14 PM  

Acid Jaxz offers quintuple meter samples and is a theme answer. The puzzle is impressive and admirable.

Masked and Anonymo5Us 1:21 PM  

har. Nothin talks Desperation like a quintuple pangram. LARP is my new fickle fave forever word. (Sorry, NER.) And, yet, for a quintuple pangram, not as Desperate as M&A might hope for.

Neat how one could maybe suss out them last few tough crossins, by countin up missin quintuplers. If that's yer idea of a gridfun rodeo. Woulda helped me with my ZEST-instead-of-ZEAL goof, except there were six L's, so ... falsely assured again, Pangram Breath.

Stuntpuzs are ok by me, now and then. They yield differentness, which I'm in favor of. It's not every day-um day, that U get an isolated lil finale corner with FOHN, OREM, and DXIX in it, after all ...

Cheer up, @RP: This record was set, usin an 80-word count. So, record with an asterisk. Leaves the door cracked open, a might, for Joe DiPietro.

Thanx, Mr. Dekker. This looks like U really had to earn that 300 moneybucks, dude.

Peace on Earth, get well to sweet doggies.

M&A on the road but had to get in on this.

Anonymous 1:23 PM  

Rex I think you are very harsh on your review. A D would have correctly pointed out the lack of entertainment value for the solver but also acknowledged the construction feat.

Chronic dnfer 1:24 PM  

Loved the puzz because I mostly solved. All guesses correct. Fell into the zest trap. So a dnf on one hand and pretty much a stunning victory on the other. Happy to have had this puzzle to do on a rainy day in ct.

Andrea Ojeda 1:30 PM  

This might be impressive, in a construction sense, but it was really boring to solve.

Don McBrien 1:32 PM  

I don't think the criticism is that pangrams are bad per se. A puzzle could just happen to use all 26 letters despite the constructor not setting out to do this. Or perhaps the constructor can get there by changing a LED to QED or something. The issue is when the constructor sets out to make a pangram. Then the focus of the puzzle changes from focusing on the solving experience to focusing on what the constructor can do. I haven't gone back and looked at any of Rex's old posts, but I suspect the ones where he doesn't mention it are ones where the pangram is not the point of the puzzle.

For me, this is an amazing feat, the difficulty of which is illustrated by the fact that is has not been done before. There are a lot of people who enjoy this type of puzzle and it takes all kinds, so I can recognize that for this type of puzzle, this is the top of the game.

As a solver, I much prefer completing a puzzle and feeling satisfied that I "figured it out." Maybe I'm narcissistic, but I like the "I got it" feeling. After completing a puzzle like this, there's satisfaction in completing it, but after that there's just "Wow, isn't the guy who made this smart." So it feels like there's something missing.

That's not a complaint, though, since this was an amazing puzzle, and there are many days in the year.

Teedmn 1:33 PM  

An ambitious concept well-executed is my take on this puzzle. Hard for a Wednesday and my little blind spot at RAKI/JAKE (wha?) (hi @LMS) left me a bit DOWN QUARK. I've always liked the QUIRKy FlAVORs assigned to QUARKs: up, DOWN, strange, top, charm and bottom, although my understanding of them is more than a bit FUZZY.

I like the I HAVE NEVER stack in the bottom central. I found this to be a FÖHN Wednesday, thanks DCDD

Jon Roberts 1:52 PM  


Linda 1:55 PM  

I thought this puzzle was great fun. A+ from me for both the construction and the solving experience.

Sydney 1:56 PM  

I know weird stuff like raki, oryx, fohn...which I had seen as foehn so it probably has an umlaut. I am not a fast solver or even a particularly good one, but I did the Ipad version in fifteen minutes with no look-ups... I got answers I didn't know by crosses. This wasn't particularly hard and I found it fun. Thank you, dear constructor.
I'll take your word for it that Rex is nice, but you wouldn't know it from his posts. I do enjoy reader comments...lots of interesting people out there!

Dick Swart 1:56 PM  

I liked the Qs, Zs, and Xs. I didn't realize it was a pangram or care, in spite of the meta clue. I just thought it was an amusing medium hard puzzle designed to fgve those lesser used letters a chance to shine.

And that Q ladder is an excellent example!

Anonymous 1:57 PM  

@Nate - Rex has a typo in his write-up. He has " least five clues" when he should have had ... at least five times. Each letter appears 5 times.

Deej 2:01 PM  

This is so late, I doubt it will be read, but I'm wondering if in his hurry to post his review, Rex mis-typed the theme explanation. Instead of, "all letters of alphabet appear in grid at least five clues, which you probably gathered from such activities as 'reading the clue'," Perhaps he meant, "all letters of alphabet appear in grid at least five times, which you probably gathered from such activities as 'reading the clue'."

And I have to add, as a fan who owns 33 acid jazz albums, I have never considered it dance music. Some of it, by some artists, is danceable, but most of it is a bit more slow, chill, and cerebral. When it was popular in the '90s, I thought it was "after hours party" music to listen to at the end of an evening listening to more danceable stuff.

Anonymous 2:04 PM  

Random Person: I just love the Q ladder, it's so artistic
Guy who understands things: Of course there's a Q ladder - The Q actually takes up two spaces, what with the (virtual) requirement of the U which follows it. You need the ladder to fit the 'Q's in.
Random Person: Shut up

Alysia 2:04 PM  


Anonymous 2:06 PM  

I thought this was a great puzzle. Since I could care less about pangrams -- I'm sure that I have never noticed, this could have passed as a clean themeless for those of us who don't count letter occurances. Only problem for me was the upper-right corner. Didn't come up with 'halt', so missed 'shaw', and didn't have a clue about honey boo-boo. Things like that, e.g. obscure rapper names or foreign words, I put in the Nadick category.

Lewis 2:14 PM  

@aketi -- Somewhere in the last three years there was a puzzle with one double letter, I remember, and I admired the constructor because it could have been easily changed to remove the double letter, but it would have made the fill uglier, so it was quality over glory. I consider any puzzle with less than five double letters highly unusual; it happens one to three times a year. Before I started tracking this, there was a puzzle with zero -- not because of an unusual theme -- and it's the only one in the Shortz era.

Chaos344 2:33 PM  

@Paul Rippey:

Thanks for that great "heads up" about the South African national anthem! I'm gonna check it out.

Sheik Yerbouti 2:53 PM  

The problem with this type of theme is that it compels bad fill. You can't fix AMAJ or FOHN or TSWANA or the repetitiveness of QUICK, QUACK, QUARK, QUIRK, because you'd undermine your theme. So you basically have to choose between fidelity to your theme and a clean grid. I personally at least give a passing credit to the five-letter accomplishment, so I might give it a D or C-minus. But this is not a good puzzle in my view.

Mohair Sam 3:03 PM  

@Z - I'll bet you're right, I've seen "Unknown" before. But Unknown is still a cool tag on this blog for a poster in Natick.

Vancouver Nana 3:15 PM  

Come on folks, this is Rex's blog and we read it for his opinion. If you don't like it either skip or give your opinions respectfully.

Plus if any one has ever had an old faithful dog who is sick, you know you don't much care about any thing else. Glad Rex shared what is going on in his life. If you've not had such a pet then you won't understand and that's ok too but please respect what Rex is going through!

As for the puzzle, I wasn't wild about the solve, but it is just a xword!

phil phil 3:54 PM  

Who under 80 years old used or heard 'jake' in their lifetime.

Acro jazz makes better sense as a dance music genre. Never heard of acid jazz as dance or music associated let alone both.
Anyway managed to finish because my wife heard 'jake' from her great aunt

Z 3:57 PM  

@Mohair Sam3:03 - Agreed.

@Vancouver Nana - 95% of the people who post here are great people. The other 5% we mostly ignore. I just saw a tweet from Rex remarking on the large number of comments he hasn't read. If a mean comment goes unread does it make a sound?

4:00 and well past 125 comments. Are we heading for 200 and two pages? Three and out, here.

AskGina 4:01 PM  

I did an informal count of the clear enjoyed v the clear hated and it appears that more enjoyed. I did that because I was curious, but full disclosure, I got board with the task pretty quickly and I get sloppy when bored

M and Also 4:30 PM  

There are lots kinds of fun, with different strokes for different folks. Lotsa people like lots stuff, and it ain't always the same stuff for everyone. De busta gut. [Exception: Cinnamon rolls.]

What it says, is that everybody here is dead-snot right-on, about whether they like this WedPuz or not, and what they liked or disliked about it. And about what grade they'd give it. Each of us is the #1 expert, on that.

M&A re: this WedPuz …
* Liked it just fine.
* Don't like to grade puzs on the A-to-Z scale.
* Liked 93.45% of the fill.
* Admired the desperation of 12.35% of the fill.
* Enjoyed @RP's shorter-than-snot 2.95% of a review, other than the part about the dog feelin poorly.

M&A Trek

Robert Grady 5:04 PM  

I liked this puzzle. I realized I could use the quintuple theme to correctly guess the letter in the raki/jake cross. Great job

CLB 5:15 PM  

Very impressive accomplishment, and not nearly as bad as I would have expected it to be.

It would make it more impressive if the constructor did not need to point out the accomplishment himself, but alas even with a quintuple pangram most solvers wouldn't know without being told. That's the problem with pangrams I guess.

So good job I guess. But don't do it again!

Anonymous 6:03 PM  

The fact that I know Honey Boo Boo's real first name is Alana disturbs me deeply...

Nancy 6:14 PM  

@Aketi (12:03 p.m.) -- One of the funniest posts I've ever read here. I'm sorry I didn't know you as an infant. You must have been quite...unforgettable.

Anonymous 6:26 PM  

I liked this one. Rex is too crabby on this one.

Anonymous 6:40 PM  

I thought from Rex's confusing description of the theme that perhaps I'd missed something: that each letter appeared 5x also in the clues. After the tedium of counting the letters to get the N of Alana, I did the same for the clues. J, X, and Z didn't make it. But clues seemed to strive toward diversity. Did Rex know that they were once clued with all letters, and then Shortz, not noticing this secondary theme, edited them out?

DavidC 9:40 PM  

Him needs better meds. Much better meds.

Virginia 10:32 PM  

This post exemplifies the problem with giving the puzzles letter grades. If Rex just hated the puzzle, that would just be Rex being grumpy. But the "F" takes it right out of the realm of amusing grumpiness and into the realm of meanness for its own sake. It's fine if you think pangrams are intrinsically dumb, but other than disliking the theme, this puzzle is perfectly adequate. Better than adequate, IMO -- I enjoyed solving it as a themeless, and was happy to figure out the theme as I finished. Perfect? Probably not. F-worthy? Definitely not.

Leapfinger 10:49 PM  

'Twas brillig, and the JAGR LARP
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe.

Hoo HAW! I've heard of Mick JAGR, and even Dean JAGR, but today was a first for A JARomir JAGR.

I was in a good mood when I started the puzzle, and in an even better mood when I finished. Like @Gill, I have to go with what @Mike Reese said.@RooMonster also. Loved the cool fill and the wonky fill enough to carry over any SQuiffy fill. Having read most of the "No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" books at one time, I had a fair idea TSWANA might be the language of BoTSWANA. (Turns out it is, but also is spoken in Namibia, Zimbabwe and S. Africa.)

I liked how a STICK in the CRAW wood STICK in the CRAW, and how the ladder of Qs is just the Q-TIP of the iceberg, qu'aint it? One day, I may tell about me and that '77 BUICK Regal...

FUZZY ZEALer: A HAW for all you golfers.
IPSE DXIX: The constructor's initials must have been the gateway for the theme idea.

Anyway, MY OB says that if you're going to have QUINTUPLEs, this is the best way to do it.

@Aketi, 12 months is pretty precocious for "Dammit! Dammit!". I'm impressed.
@Many, thanks for the DIVERse comments expanding on non-cheese QUARKs and other arcana du jour.
@Rex, sympathies.nHope your pup is better sion.

Thanks, DDD, no STRAW man. High FIVE.

Leapfinger 11:00 PM  

PS. I also enjoyed that @Dolgo 0349 corrected his Turkish RAKIA, but not his time-travel to 2983-4. [smiley]

Norm 11:16 PM  

Count one more vote for Rex's F. This was crap as far as I was concerned. Sorry to chime in so late, but it's been a busy day -- and this "puzzle" did not help. Count me annoyed.

Marlo 11:17 PM  

I am a most uncritical critic, so when I got annoyed by all the terrible fill halfway thru the puzzle--to the point that I almost walked away from it-- I knew Rex would hate it. I agree that it's an impressive feat of construction but truly painful to solve.

AskGina 11:25 PM  

Ah @Leapfinger, brilliant! Bravo! The most entertaining comment of a very entertaining day of commentary! Thankye

David C. Duncan Dekker 12:14 AM  

Just received this e-mail:


Don’t bother sending me any more puzzles.


Anonymous 12:26 AM  

I am used to Rex's mean tone by now but this really was uncalled for. I thought the puzzle was clever and cute.

And to respond to another comment ("why come here if you don't like what Rex says"): I come for information, explanation and fellow commenters.

Since someone interestingly counted up the "yeas" and "nays" I'm putting in a thumbs up for the record. Interesting to see how very many comments there were today...


Doc John 3:15 AM  

I think Rex has officially jumped the shark on this one. Whatever your opinion on pangrams, they are an achievement. A 5X one with very little crosswordese (but some hard words that you'd otherwise expect in the NYT) is outstanding.
Yes, Rex has published puzzles. I dare him to do one like this.
And David, I hope Will was kidding.

Hartley70 3:56 AM  

I had a laugh tonight as I was reading a novel and a character began drinking a glass of RAKI.

Unknown 4:30 AM  

I've been a casual puzzler for decades and only got serious enough to subscribe to the NYT puzzle and read this blog in the last few months. Stuff that's old hat to Rex is often new and fun to me, like this. I had a good time solving it. A-

Thanks to reading this blog, I now always notice things like sexism/racism and generational signals in the cluing and fill. That's a so far uncommented-on aspect of this puzzle, I think. I definitely noticed that SEXY refers to men's bodies, not women's, which is nice during the olympics' retrograde-sexist sports coverage. LARPing and ACIDJAZZ were big when I was in college, is the constructor my age, I wonder? Sure, I rolled my eyes at JAKE but not much else. Some stretching for a theme is to be expected and I appreciate not making it a themeless so I could get myself in that mindset instead of the "wtf is going on, this sucks" mindset. I also now am starting to notice things like clever crosses because of you all, and I backed into the Qs by noticing DOWNQUARK and QUACK. It enabled me to really enjoy that little ride, all the way down (up?) to the "I give up" represented by BBQ breaking the pattern. And in looking back at it to write this post I noticed the Ks and that made me smile.

It's Rex's blog and I've learned a lot from him and the commenters here--like the confidence in my own opinions to say that just because an old puzzle hand doesn't like something doesn't mean I can't. And I appreciate the implicit warning that things look different after years of daily solving, so I should enjoy being new to stuff like pangrams while they are still new to me.

Curleegirl 11:39 AM  

Fair enough, if it's commonly (or ever) used that way. But it's not, is it?

eveostay 12:13 PM  

Remember when an F grade used to elicit a comment from the puzzle's editor? Man, those were the days.

MaharajaMack 12:53 PM  

I almost wet myself when I saw the greatest hockey player of my lifetime in a crossword puzzle.

I looked forward to reading this blog since I knew Rex would loathe it, but was disappointed that he didn't even try. It annoyed me throughout, but when I look back at the grid, there wasn't a lot dreck there. That said, the cluing was terrible! Did this one get any editing at all?

Burma Shave 10:06 AM  


IHAVE NEVER had ZEAL to STICK with a couple,


spacecraft 10:35 AM  

Uh, David? What Will said. Or. to APE the alliteration of your name:

Don't ditch your day duties.

In golf, "other--" a number with so many squares around it you can't read it. In football, a pick six for the other team. From their own two-yard-line. You get the idea. That is all.

rondo 11:32 AM  

Didn’t hate it quite as much as OFL. Any complaint I have is mainly with the grid layout. You’ve got 8 mini puzzles isolated in the corners and sides and then the Q-fest in the middle so it’s like 9 little puzzles with tenuous connections. Toss in the RMK (random musical key) and the RRN and all we’re missing is a RCD (random compass direction). And not a yeah baby in sight.

Coupla Natick guesses saved me from a DNF – kinda knew the K in JAKE, so not too bad; the O in FOHN was a guess based on 2 years of H.S. German. When I got to work I checked my 1942 Perma Cross Word Puzzle Dictionary and there were many Turkish items but no RAKI brandy. ORYX was there but the Alpine wind was a FOEHN (German umlaut Ö I presume).

We can get a band name today if we go back to the 1960s for MOBY GRAPE. Yeah, I figured you didn’t know ‘em.

JAGR a hockey gimme. FUZZY coulda been the golfer.

With all the Js and Zs up top, I was worried that the puz revealer was going to be Jay Z, and then let the howling begin. Other than that, I don’t have any particular feeling about this puz. Must have been tough to construct a QUINTUPLE panny. Not sure I needed to see it.

rondo 11:35 AM  

Wow. 160+ comments on a Weds- puz.

Sailor 12:57 PM  

Oh man - this puzzle was like a STICK poked in an anthill and stirred around. Everyone comes out!

Me, I liked it. It was really impressive to see those Qs and Ks stair-stepping down through the middle. And I thought the fill was pretty clean for a stunt puzzle, too. Loved DOWNQUARK! I had a near-Natick at the TSWANA/ALANA cross, but managed to guess correctly (and a tip o' the hat to everyone who knew TSWANA).

I wouldn't want to see this kind of thing on a regular basis, but as a Wednesday change-of-pace, I thought it was just fine.

leftcoastTAM 1:03 PM  

DCDD and WS: IHAVE no doubt that you have QUINTUPLEd (or more) each letter of the alphabet. But I'll be FIVEFOLD damned if I'm gonna count them.

ITSWANA/ALANA cross was inferable, and crosses took care of the unknown DOWNQUARK. But a rare Wednesday DNF emerged at the FOHM/HEMI cross because of my bad-guess "r" instead of "H". Know of HEMI engine, but couldn't summon it up.

Liked the JIVER-DIVER combo. Could make a good rap piece maybe.

Not too bad, but I have to AVOW it's been a QUIRKy PLOW.

Anonymous 1:40 PM  

A well deserved F, if only for 21A.

Anonymous 2:36 PM  

From Syndication Land:

I loved the scrabbliness of this puzzle! So much fun seeing all those Qs! When I finished, I said to myself,
"Rex is going to hate this. He is going to be so cranky that he probably won't give it a write-up and will definitely give it an F." I had to laugh out loud when I opened the blog.

rain forest 2:58 PM  

Always amazing when something as trivial as a crossword puzzle can raise such controversy. Equally remarkable is the statement by OFL, "pangrams are stupid"... and fatuous that he says "I am sorry that I am not sorry". Er, I don't think so. I *am* sorry he has an ailing pet, though.

We've seen/solved puzzles that are very entertaining, some that aren't quite there, some that are uniquely creative, and others with all sorts of construction acrobatics. They are all puzzles, last time I looked, laid out for their ability to entertain/impress the solver. For a variety of reasons, this one was both entertaining and impressive. I do appreciate what constructors are capable of, and I also appreciate how I may be entertained. I don't think I could ever get angry about a puzzle. I just solve them. I solved this one, the only word with which I was unfamiliar being FOHN, but there I learned something.

Diana,LIW 3:17 PM  

Hey Rondo - I remember Moby Grape - but I couldn't tell you one song they did.

Ah, the puzzler. I was puzzled greatly. I knew there had to be a trick, and I worked and worked to find it. Was it a rebus? A symbol? Punny spelling? Wha???

You see, I had, instead of QUILTING bee and FUZZY, spellING and haZeY. Nothing like spelling the wrong answer incorrectly - makes for a special kind of error.

As you can imagine, unknown words were showing up in my grid. Finally, with 90% "filled in," I came here to see the error of MY WAYS - not the constructor's.

Knew that REX would hate it 'cause he duzzent like pans. I have certain types of puzs I enjoy over others, but haven't yet had antipathy toward one.

My only complaint would be that some of the vocabulary was more Fri/Sat than Wed. You know which ones.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Cross Words

wcutler 5:05 PM  

I liked @Sailor's comment about the puzzle bringing everyone out. And thanks to @Paul Rippey for the suggestion to listen to the African National Anthem.

I liked seeing the ladders, wasn't sure if they were supposed to do anything, since I wasn't really on to pangrams, came here to find out what they were about, so thanks all for the explanatory comments.

My favourite clues were Frequent flyer (bird), which I got right away and thought must be wrong, and Beauty spot (dayspa), which led me astray right away. I didn't know FOHN and didn't know there was such a thing as a HEMI, so dnf on a Wednesday. That's ok. I enjoyed it.

Anonymous 10:05 PM  

Wow. I almost never agree with Rex on anything, but he is completely right about this one. A big-time F grade for this most boring, vapid, pointless puzzle ever.

Nightowl 3:39 AM  


Nightowl 3:39 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nightowl 3:41 AM  

Oryx, and I liked the puzzle, from syndi land.

Nightowl 4:01 AM  


Nightowl 4:15 AM  

Sheesh!! Terrible, Will Shortz!! As in, WS is terrible!!

Nightowl 4:27 AM  

Syndi lander here. I looked up SQFT-Pentagon, and was pleasantly surprised to read about the Pentagon's post 9/11, since here in syndi-land, it was 9/14. And yes, I put in zest/lsrp--had no clue about LARP. I try to solve these NYT puzzles for the challenge, even the trivia.So even if I end up googling some answers, I try to finish--no time limit if I can help it. I enjoy reading the comments, too, usually. Today was a Wed;even as a newbie solver, I think the F was excessive!!

Nightowl 4:28 AM  

Syndi lander here. I looked up SQFT-Pentagon, and was pleasantly surprised to read about the Pentagon's post 9/11, since here in syndi-land, it was 9/14. And yes, I put in zest/lsrp--had no clue about LARP. I try to solve these NYT puzzles for the challenge, even the trivia.So even if I end up googling some answers, I try to finish--no time limit if I can help it. I enjoy reading the comments, too, usually. Today was a Wed;even as a newbie solver, I think the F was excessive!!

Nightowl 4:29 AM  

Sheesh!! Terrible, Will Shortz!! As in, WS is terrible!!

Nightowl 4:30 AM  


Unknown 10:09 AM  

I believe it is "a" ailing pet. The rule is for the subject, not the adjective, no?

Matt McDonald 10:11 AM  

I believe it is "a" ailing pet. The rule is for the subject, not the adjective, no?

Z 10:32 AM  

@Matt McDonald - The rule is about not trying to say two vowel sounds in succession, so "an ailing...."

Michael Leddy 8:26 PM  

No idea if anyone will see this comment, as I’m solving a syndicated version. (I gave up on paying for the puzzle not long after TORME was clued as “Cool jazz pioneer” — wrong, wrong, wrong.)

Anyway: FOHN is a word that rings a bell for me. It appears at the end of John Ashbery and James Schuyler’s collaborative novel A Nest of Ninnies. Ashbery explains in his Paris Review interview:

“A gag that's probably gone unnoticed turns up in the last sentence of the novel I wrote with James Schuyler. Actually it’s my sentence. It reads: ‘So it was that the cliff dwellers, after bidding their cousins good night, moved off towards the parking area, while the latter bent their steps toward the partially rebuilt shopping plaza in the teeth of the freshening foehn.’ Foehn is a kind of warm wind that blows in Bavaria that produces a fog. I would doubt that many people know that. I liked the idea that people, if they bothered to, would have to open the dictionary to find out what the last word in the novel meant. They'd be closing one book and opening another.”

The word is obscure, obviously so. Seeing FOHN in a Wednesday puzzle? Oy.

wcutler 2:10 AM  

@Michael Leddy, I read your comment. :)
I liked your "closing one book and opening another.”

Michael Leddy 8:57 PM  

@wcutler: My comment was not in vain. :) But all credit to John Ashbery!

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