Camera named for goddess / WED 3-29-17 / Crisis time / 1974 hit with Spanish lyrics / Leather often treated to look like Morocco / Aromatic additive to natural gas

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Constructor: Jules P. Markey

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: MIDDLE AGE (34A: Crisis time, for some ... or a hint to each of the circled words) — circled letters in the "middle" of four answers are all words that can precede "age" ...

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: ODORANT (38D: Aromatic additive to natural gas) —
noun: odorant; plural noun: odorants
  1. a substance giving off a smell, especially one used to give a particular scent or odor to a product. (google)
• • •

This is poor on several levels. The basic theme conceit isn't stunning (circled squares in the middle of theme answers spell a bunch of things that have something in common, revealer does something hamfistedly punny, tada!—) but it's the kind of familiar, been-done-before, salvageable concept that should be able to get you to Average if you work at it—that is, if your themers are great and your hidden words make a tight set and are properly "hidden." And while you could argue that the themers themselves are perfectly fine answers (all 15s), beyond that, things fall apart. As I've said more, good craftsmanship standards in a "hidden words" puzzle like this dictate that the "hidden" word should touch all elements in the theme answers, i.e. normally, stretch across two words (the way ICE stretches across ELECTRIC and ENGINES in the first themer). But here, not one but *two* of these damned things fail here, and one fails terribly. At least STONE is "hidden" somewhere (between LOST and ONE'S), even if it does have MARBLES just hanging out there in the wind; IRON isn't even trying. It just sits inside ADIRONDACK, cleverness nil, CHAIR just waving from the sidelines. Further, and worse, the set of "hidden" words goes yes yes yes *clunk*, i.e. three actual "ages" and then stupid figurative crystal-wearing bad-music-suffused NEW. No. No to NEW.

The fill is the repulsively rich icing on this lopsided cake. I circled all the tired-to-bad fill and my puzzle printout has a nearly unbroken swath of ink all the way from the SW to the NE corner. Grid is very choppy, esp. toward the middle, and the three- and four-word onslaught gets pretty dire. Once again, I could tell before exiting the NW that things were going to be bad. It was slightly sad how easily I was able to put in the dreadful IREFUL / RELEE crossing. Puzzle's can't even sneak up on me with its blecchness any more. You can just say some of the lines straight across to get a feel for how bad the fill is. OBE EOS MCML!! POS POO RAS CEO! POO on top of "ERES TU," indeed. So, to sum up, workable concept, poorly worked, filled like a landfill.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:39 AM  

All the spanners were very nice, and good clues for BRIDGE, ANTE, and ESS. I always loved the word MACABRE. IREFUL, not so much. I'm wondering how the solve would have gone had the circles not been there.

Regarding midlife crises, I think I'm still waiting for mine. I didn't buy the red sports car, or stray in my marriage, and I believe I'm past what is considered middle age. But maybe Dave Barry hit on the secret when he said, "You can only be young once. But you can always be immature."

I am the father of Odysseus in the Odyssey 7:02 AM  

[LAERTES wounds HAMLET; then in scuffling, they
change rapiers, and HAMLET wounds LAERTES]

HAMLET: O villany! Ho! let the door be lock'd:
Treachery! Seek it out.

LAERTES: It is here, Hamlet: Hamlet, thou art slain;
No medicine in the world can do thee good;
In thee there is not half an hour of life;
The treacherous instrument is in thy hand,
Unbated and envenom'd: the foul practise
Hath turn'd itself on me lo, here I lie,
Never to rise again: thy mother's poison'd:
I can no more: the king, the king's to blame.

HAMLET: The point!--envenom'd too!
Then, venom, to thy work.

Hamlet, Act V, scene II

One 7:06 AM  

One 8d repeated as One's in 27a.

Aketi 7:11 AM  

@ one, I had a typo that gave me two ODES instead of ONE ODE and ONE OBE.

RAD2626 7:12 AM  

Agree that the themers were all really solid. Also agree with @Lewis that the circles. were not necessary although I have to admit, I did not get the "middle" pun and was looking for the word "age" in each of the themers. Also thought clue for BRIDGE worth the price of admission.

BarbieBarbie 7:16 AM  

For deals I couldn't get off the "art of the" kind and onto the "cards" kind, so I depended on the crosses and unfortunately thought Mr. wooley was SHaB. So, a DNF for me. Though I agree it was Medium. It's just that my brain was Extra Small today.

I am the father of Odysseus in the Odyssey 7:26 AM  

[LAERTES wounds HAMLET; then in scuffling, they
change rapiers, and HAMLET wounds LAERTES]

HAMLET: O villany! Ho! let the door be lock'd:
Treachery! Seek it out.

LAERTES: It is here, Hamlet: Hamlet, thou art slain;
No medicine in the world can do thee good;
In thee there is not half an hour of life;
The treacherous instrument is in thy hand,
Unbated and envenom'd: the foul practise
Hath turn'd itself on me lo, here I lie,
Never to rise again: thy mother's poison'd:
I can no more: the king, the king's to blame.

HAMLET: The point!--envenom'd too!
Then, venom, to thy work.

Hamlet, Act V, scene II

Glimmerglass 7:30 AM  

My standards for "hidden" are much lower tha @Rex's. Anyway, the revealer says MIDDLE AGE, not hiddben age. A couple of the downs were pleasing (MACABRE, ODORANT, yeilding "corpse flower"?), but on balance, I agree with @Rex. Too easy for a Wednesday, and the theme made it even easier.

kitshef 7:32 AM  

Had mEadE first at 14A then when I got MEAD at 16A I wasn't sure what was going on. Eventually it all sorted itself out.

I love to LIE SLOW, but am only permitted to do so on weekends.

ODOR ANT - Atom ant's less popular cousin.

Mr. Sutcliffe was poised to be a big star ERE STU left the Beatles.

Most of my grid is a mess, but I had a CLEAN SE.

Forsythia 7:45 AM  

@kitchef - Love your comments! ODOR ANT...stink bug?
Hated IREFUL and couldn't believe that would be the correct answer.

Loren Muse Smith 7:48 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charles Bisengimana 7:48 AM

Loren Muse Smith 7:50 AM  

Embedding words within phrases always amuses me, and I’m with @Glimmerglass on the standards deal. I did notice that IRON doesn’t span two words, but it didn’t bother me; I don’t think there was much to choose from. So will I let this spoil my experience? Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin. I didn’t notice that NEW was an outlier, but I was looking for “space.” Again, problematic because there’s just not a lot to choose from. KEEPS PACE WITH? Nah. Too short.

@Lewis, @RAD2626 – I was wondering the same thing about the grid sans circles. And fwiw - IREFUL has Hinman-Walden-Gamache-Silvestri-Nosowsky-Klahn immunity. I agree that MACABRE is nice.

As a singular they user, I’m feeling more and more emboldened to admit that I always want to “lay low” before LIE LOW. It feels more natural to me. Maw-maw is on the warpath, so I’m gonna lay low for a while. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the lie/lay distinction is in its twilight years, destined to the fate of the shall/will distinction.

I actually had a dnf because of the NTSB/ODORANT/SHEB cross. I had a dumb “NASA/odorana/Shea” there. I figured there are still tons of words, especially scienceful words, that I don’t know, I just chalked “odorana” up to one of those. It made me think of “odorama” – any room where my son took his shoes off.

I liked the clue for CLEANSE. Are cleanses still de rigueur? I did that maple syrup-cayenne pepper one a couple of years ago. Good fun. “Colonic” has the same number of letters but is probably a much quicker and emphatic cleanse.

APE MAN is a bonus answer, right?

Jules – I liked the literal take on MIDDLE AGE. “Crisis time.” Hmm. How did my crisis present? If middle age starts in the forties, then I guess it was my Outward Bound adventure where in addition to sleeping under a tarp at -40℉ we eschewed the Charmin for snowballs and I’m not making that up.

Anyhoo… nice one, Jules. My favorite of yours is still that EX MARX DESPOT one. Hah!

PS – wonder if the Lebron zealots are upset after losing to the Spurs?

Rhino 7:56 AM  

Didn't get a chance to comment on Monday - but I loved that puzzle. Enjoyed every moment of it. Thought it was fresh and compelling and had a big goofy smile on my face through the whole damn thing.

Yesterday's puzzle I can't remember at all.

And today's sucked.

Tom 8:00 AM  

I love the Dave Barry quote. Thank you fellow bloggers for noticing the "middle" age aspect, which I completely missed.

evil doug 8:00 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 8:01 AM  

Another day, another Rex Parker panning of the NYT crossword puzzle. It makes me wonder you still bother with this blog since you seem to disapprove of nearly every puzzle.

Harvey Briggs 8:03 AM  

One big fail for me as an automotive journalist is the first theme answer. Engine is used to describe internal combustion, i.e. gas, diesel, CNG, powered vehicles. Motor is used for the powerplant in electric vehicles.

Peter 8:20 AM  

I was underwhelmed by the theme, but certainly wasn't offended as badly as, say, last week Wednesday. I had a few rough crossings: 19D/25A, 54D/63A in particular. Seems sort of unfair to put an initialism (where obviously no pronunciation intuition is relevant) crossing an unusual name...

Trombone Tom 8:38 AM  

@HarveyBriggs I fully agree on the engine/motor issue. I had a couple of writeovers after ELECTRIC before I gave in to ENGINE.

Other than that the puzzle didn't put up much resistance for a Wednesday.

I did like two of the grid-spanners; LOST ONES MARBLES and MACHINE WASHABLE.

Anonymous 8:38 AM  

54D/63A is no good. Uninferrable initialism crossing uncommon name -- there's no "working it out" if you don't just know it. And lots of logical choices (A, P, or M, for example), feel better than the right answer.

Ted 8:43 AM  

As already said: ELECTRIC ENGINE is not a thing.

Go on, google it. Google just happily fixes it and sends you to Electric Motor, because you're clearly a plonker.

RooMonster 8:43 AM  

Hey All !
Circles are a plus, in my book. If they weren't there, there'd be a lot of complaints about "How can we find the AgeS with no circles?" Just sayin.

Liked puz more than Rex. I do agree with NEW, however. Ick. How about Lebron zealousy? 14 letters, oh well. 18 threes today, seemed like more. Lots of Abbrs.

Had OdE for OBE, causing my famous one-letter DNF. Didn't notice already had ODE in puz. OBE, Harumph. Neat writeover, buck/ChunkY- CLAM/CREAMY. Gave a side glance to IREFUL. GNAR is a cool word.

@Anoa Bob, is ESS a literal POC? :-)


Anonymous 8:45 AM  

What Mr Briggs said...

Nate 8:55 AM  

I had MACHINE WASH ONLY instead of MACHINE WASHABLE for far, far too long. Even when I had GARP! I figured there was probably some other Irving title character that I'm not familiar with. I don't think any clothes are machine wash ONLY, so I don't know what I was thinking...

Anyways, didn't love it, didn't hate it. I have a rational (not irrational) hatred of any clue that asks for Roman numerals. Just, ugh. I know all trivia is trivial, but Roman numerals take the cake for me. It's completely useless rote memorization. On the plus side, I always think of the Simpsons episode when Bart grouses about learning his Roman numerals.

MACABRE is a great word, for sure.

QuasiMojo 9:08 AM  

Yikes, I'm in awe of Rex's ability to lay it all out there, in its odiferous pile of steaming terribleness. First off, a theme about different ages is quaint, the type of thing one finds in children's magazines. Rex is right to demand a higher standard from the NYT.

As for the lay/lie thing (yet again), this is not something that is going to go away. The words mean two different things. You don't lay low unless you are a height-challenged bricklayer or a hen with a squashed nest.

Anyone remember that song sung by Al Jolson, "Waiting For the Robert E. Lee"? It just doesn't scan right as "R. E. Lee." Such abominations should not be allowed in the N.Y.Tee.

Happy Pencil 9:14 AM  

I thought that was a relatively restrained review from Rex for what I thought was a pretty poor puzzle. I saw IREFUL and thought we would be in for a humdinger of a rant -- and that was before I got to GNAR. Random Roman numerals, abbreviations aplenty, totally agree on NEW as an uninspired outlier -- this one felt phoned-in from start to finish, I'm sorry to say.

puzzle hoarder 9:14 AM  

There was very little learning experience in today's solve. IREFUL was about it for unknown material. SHEB could have been difficult except we just had his name in a clue for one of Sunday's themers. The one mystery to me is the French connection for 25D. I recall AMIE as being the feminine of AMI. If the word pen had been capitalized it could have been a reference to the right wing politician or maybe I'm just not getting the clue at all. Over all this was an easy forgettable puzzle.

pmdm 9:20 AM  

Z: About your comment yesterday, no, you didn't think you were at all strident. I thought you were being funny and chuckled at your comment. I frequently have minimal time to enter comments and understand the problem well.

About today's puzzle, I enjoyed solving it, which I guess is all that matters to me. But I was unhappy with the 50A 45D crossing. ELECTRICALLY POWERED ENGINE is what I call a 17A. But since electric/gas oven is OK, perhaps we have to give a pass to electric engine. I'm easy (sometimes).

Churlish Nabob 9:25 AM  

Anyone remember a month or two ago when Shortz kicked Sharp's ass?

Bill Feeney 9:28 AM  

I'm with @LMS. Lay low has a je ne sais quoi, Beverly Hillbillyish, authenticity to it that lie low just can't reach.

Bill Feeney 9:29 AM  

Hillbilliesish, I think.

Anonymous 9:33 AM  

Why is bridge a game for dummies? I just know I'm going to feel like a dummy when someone answers.

Conrad 9:34 AM  

@Harvey Briggs (and @Trombone Tom, @Ted and possibly others) -- the page you linked to says, "an engine is ... any machine that converts energy into force, such as a catapult." By that definition, isn't an electric motor also an ELECTRIC ENGINE?

GILL I. 9:44 AM  

Female pen pal = AMIE? What a strange clue. A DODO is a dim bulb? I guess we use dim bulb for a really stupid person?
I was sailing through this and actually enjoying the ITCHY FLAK LAERTES. LOST ONES MARBLES is cute in a bonkers sort of way. Then I came to ADIRONDACK CHAIR and I DID notice that IRON forgot to stretch across two words. It looked out of place - like something missing in upstate New York. I don't know why it bothered me, but it did in a missing cherry on your ice cream sundae sorta way.
I love to wear silk. During my working girl suit days, I always packed several silk blouses. You take them out of your carry-on, put them on a hangar, hang them up in the bathroom and turn the hot water on full steam ahead. close the door and wait 5 minutes. Voila...perfectly ironed. I got tired of paying outrageous prices to send them to the cleaners so I tried washing a few of them in cold water on the gentle cycle. GNAR. They shrink.....
How old is MIDDLE AGE these days?

Hartley70 9:48 AM  

SHEB Wooley was in a Sunday clue this week. Otherwise I would never have known his first name. I only remember it because I wondered how anyone could be expected to remember it.

I thoroughly object to IREFUL, APEMAN and ODORANTS. They feel like cheap words. I'd like to buy some quality words, please.

The theme didn't offend me and it may be the first laundry themer I've come across. I liked that the iron was poised above the silk. That can be a recipe for disaster without a deft touch. I've spent way too much of my life dealing with laundry, but it's nice to use that uninspiring experience in a more amusing way.

chefbea 9:49 AM  

fairly easy puzzle. Had trouble in the southwest...have no idea what POS stands for???
Love salsa!!!

Nancy 9:51 AM  

I had the same ODORANa/NaSa/SHEa error that @Loren had, so I also had a DNF. Re: ODORANa -- I was surprised it was in the same puzzle as CINERAMA. I remember back at the time of CINERAMA, the movie industry was promising/threatening to introduce "smellies" (though they didn't call them that) to the movie-going public. I was horrified at the thought. Evidently enough other prospective moviegoers were equally horrified so that it never happened. But would they have called the new innovation ODORANA? Probably not. Probably it would have been ODORAMA. But anyways, back to the puzzle...

As you know, I hate tiny little circles. These tiny little circles were no more lovable than any of their predecessors and probably less so than many. Nothing terribly wrong with this puzzle, other than IREFUL (really????), but nothing particularly wonderful either.

@Lewis (6:39) -- Always suspected you were a real mensch.

John Child 9:51 AM  

Electric motor v. Electric engine here.

I liked this, all nits aside.

Nancy 10:01 AM  

Anon 9:33 am -- Re: Bridge: The person who bids the most on a hand becomes the "declarer" and plays both his own hand and his partner's hand, which is laid down on the table for everyone to see. That partner now has nothing to do, must keep his mouth shut, and is called the "dummy". His hand on the table is also called the dummy or the dummy hand. I sort of compare it to the husband and wife doubles team in tennis, where the husband moves the wife so far out in the far reaches of the alley that she's almost on the next court and says to her: "You are such a brilliant player, darling, that I'm giving you the entire alley to cover. Guard it with your life!"

Hartley70 10:11 AM  

@Gill.I, I think you're still safely in MIDDLEAGE here in Rexville. You don't qualify for the ACPT senior division until you're 80. It's the best reason to do crosswords that I've heard all year.

@LMS, the worst news may be your predicted demise of lay/lie. "If we had to learn that so why shouldn't the rest of you" argument works for me. But what hurts is that we are dumbing down English and that leads to those cheap words in today's puzzles. Soon we'll all ignore proper words and be talking senior speak, "Can you hand me the thing, the red thing with the handle that's over there on the you know thing?" That's what occasionally passes for conversation in this ersatz MIDDLEAGE household. I prefer being handed the chafing dish from the sideboard when requested.

Anonymous 10:14 AM  


I'm shocked. Horrified, or maybe just disappointed to hear you use they as a singular.

Bill Strunk

Z 10:19 AM  

For the love of God People! Engine: A machine with moving parts that converts power into motion. Motor: A machine, especially one powered by electricity or internal combustion, that supplies motive power for a vehicle or for another device with moving parts. Pop quiz: How does one differentiate between a "motor" and an "engine?" Yes, we all get that "?" moment on clues. Please read Rex FAQ #16 and then consider doing a little research or extra thinking before posting. This is especially true if you are an expert in the field being clued, because it seems that Shortz takes special pleasure in tricking experts. And always remember this, cluing is not about how something is usually wrong, but about that (maybe only) one way it is right. See the clue for BRIDGE for an example.

@anon9:33 - If South is declarer then North is dummy.

Hand up for really liking the word MACABRE. I don't know about you, but for me it sounds just like what it means, There is nothing sunny or cheerful about that word. It can't be said with a smile. You almost have to shudder a little to say it. Just a perfect word.

mathgent 10:22 AM  

Today's puzzle deserves Rex's clever destruction. It is truly awful.

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

I finished it faster than any of you, and you're all dumb.

jberg 10:54 AM  

Oh, @Loren, what shall we do with your stubborn insistence on sloppy grammar. Just remember the troubadour who, when asked to sing, replied "I cannot tell a lay."

And you're too subtle -- your p.s. almost got by me.

By the time I got to the bottom of the puzzle I was no longer noticing the circles, and assumed we were dealing with the MACHINE age. Of course, that would be even worse than ADIRONDACK, as I should have realized. (If an army also attacks from below, does it make nadir onslaughts?)

In my case, having done Sunday's puzzle actually hurt me, as I mis-remembered that guy's name as SHEp. Fortunately, a few seconds thought dredged up the NATIONAL Transportation Safety Board from memory.

Why is the clue for mead in quotation marks?

Happy Pencil 11:04 AM  

@jberg, thank you. I wondered that about the MEAD clue as well. In fact, it made me not want to enter MEAD because I thought something tricky was going on.

CLB 11:06 AM  

@Z10:19 Look it up. An engine is a machine for converting *thermal* energy into mechanical energy or power to produce force and motion.

Thermal means heat. If it doesn't have heat, it's not an engine.

Just because a small number of people use it wrongly, does not make the clue right. This is an error pure and simple.

Google 11:08 AM  

If there can be a search engine, I don't see why there can't be an electric car engine.

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

@CLB 11:06 AM: I looked it up. This is what I found Merriam-Webster definition of "engine."

I think you are wrong.

Anoa Bob 11:16 AM  

If ELECTRIC MOTOR had the right number of letters to fill that slot, that would have been the entry because that is what it is called. A Tesla car is powered by ELECTRIC MOTOR. Yes, you can concoct a circuitous argument to show how it could be ENGINE, but that seems like a bit of sophistry, a rationalization that would be used by an NYT xword apologist.

Oh, wait. ELECTRIC ENGINE is itself one letter short of spanning the grid. Well, that's easy and convenient to amend. Hello ESS, my old friend. I need to use you once again. And again, and again, and again.

ICE is the only MIDDLE AGE of the four themers. The other three have an earlier AGE.


Joseph Michael 11:20 AM  

One "age" (NEW) unlike the other three, one circled word (IRON) not spanning two words like the other three, and only two of the four themers (ICE and NEW) actually in a MIDDLE position The inconsistencies of this puzzle made me ITCHY.

I might have chalked it up to nitpicking if it were not for the really bad fill, from NTSB to MCML, which made it difficult to enjoy or forgive this puzzle.

@Nancy, ODORAMA is, in fact, the name of the smell feature that John Waters added to his film "Polyester" where audience members were given scratch-and-sniff cards to use at certain points during the story. Then there was Mike Todd Jr.'s "Scent of Mystery," the first and last film to employ SMELL-O-VISION which resulted in various smells being injected into the air of the auditorium as patrons watched the movie.

Like this puzzle, neither film was all that successful.

old timer 11:23 AM  

Thanks, Anon@11:13 AM.

I'm with OFL today. A deeply flawed puzzle. WS should have tossed it back and told the constructor to fix it, and also to get rid of GNAR, which is so obscure it might not be eligible even on a Saturday.

deerfencer 11:41 AM  

Good lord this was awful. First time I can remember abandoning a Wednesday in complete disgust.

QuasiMojo 11:43 AM  

There used to be a tiny rather tragic garden at the Natural History Musem in NY named after Margaret Mead. The only problem was the sign they installed spelled her name wrong. Meade rather than Mead. Someone tried to paint over the extra E. lol. I guess they were too cheap to order a new one. I've always wanted to try a flagon of mead. Anyone here ever taste it?

Hungry Mother 12:03 PM  

Easy for a Wednesday for me. I usually have to sweat a bit. When I was in Nova Scotia, I remember hearing about the "fog engine." I think being less rigid about word meanings makes it so much more fun doing crosswords.

Passing Shot 12:04 PM  

Liked the them (which I needed to fill some of the crosses), but yeah, the fill was ghastly. Nice cluing for BRIDGE and ANTE.

MJB 12:05 PM  

The reason lay/lie is on the wane is pre-teen giggling boys in English class.

Dan v. 12:08 PM  

Horrible, horrible puzzle.

Tita 12:12 PM  

@Nancy - the 13th century citadel in Bitche, France (not a typo) has a tour of the interior that uses ODORANTS - in the improvised hospital you would smell iodine, in the kitchen you would smell bread. I didn't much like the sensation.

@Quasi.M...Interesting factoid about that garden. It always bugs me when people are lackadaisical (Love that comment from the other day, byt, whoever you were!!) about names. Famous or just my own.

And yes, I have tasted MEAD! On our pre-honeymoon, a 3 week hybrid camping/B&B/hotel tour of Portugal and France, we stayed at a farm in the Dordogne. They made/raised/grew everything there. Including MEAD made from the honeybees they kept.
What a beautiful stay we had there with Dorothy and Michel.

I thought the puzzle was a shade bland theme-wise, but some fun fill made it enjoyable.
Clue for SALSA, having to play TAG after you LOSTyouMARBLES. GASP, SPEW, FLAK gave it a breathless tone. Not sure why AMIE fits the clue.

Happy as a CLAM is a favorite phrase of mine. It seems so inanely random.
All the themers are good - I didn't mind IRON not spanning words. ELECTRICENGINE does sound not quite right to my ear, but it does hold water in the most general of terms.

RooMonster 12:14 PM  

Har. After reading the comments after mine, there were references to @LMS' post. Reread hers, then realized I duped the LeBron "themer". Great minds, eh? :-)

At a dancing too much therapy class, this lady stood up and said, "I was once addicted to the Hokey Pokey, but I turned myself around."


chefbea 12:17 PM  

No one has even mentioned why +: is pos. Someone tell me please

EdFromHackensack 12:39 PM  

chefbea, I am positive you will figure this out on your own

anon. 12:54 PM  

Abbr. for positive (as one pole of a battery) not negative

Dick Swart 1:04 PM  

Oh, my ... another RexRant on the NYTXword.

I live in rural Oregon. I subscribe to the digital NYT. And I just paid my annual fee for the puzzle. I don't resent it.

I have been doing the Times xword since the '50's ... on campus, in the Army, commuting on the LIRR, living in various cities, and now sitting at age 82 with a cuppa and a croissant doing the print-out in fountain pen.

To me, it is a part of my life ... an assurance that my wits are still somewhere about me, that no matter how Dis-Trumpian the news is, some things remain steady.

Mohair Sam 1:07 PM  

@chefbea - (+) Go in the garage, pick up your car hood, take a peek at your battery terminal's POSitive pole.

@LMS - Wasn't going to post today but just read your late day Swifty from yesterday using Lionel Messily. A gem, and timely too - he's all over the sports headlines today.

Had to do today's puzzle alone, puzzle partner slept in (yes, kept women still exist). Agree with @Rex. Agree with the grumps on motors too. Yeah, I know, technically ENGINES is acceptable - but it just ain't used. Lost more than a little time with CLEANup before CLEANSE.

Looking at the puzz from a distance I can almost see "Mid D League" in the middle. Philadelphia's Bret Brown has won a bunch of NBA games with a Mid D League lineup this year, he's ought to be NBA coach of the year, but nobody's watching.

nick 1:11 PM  

Kind of a slog.

Teedmn 1:18 PM  

I was certainly in possession of the "dummy" hand today. I might even say I'd LOST my MARBLES! Starting in the NW, I was trying to make a criticism out of dLAK and I was becoming IRed Up until IREFUL arrived. I was actually relieved when it made its entrance.

The triangular nuts were coming from a BEtel tree for a while, right next to my suvS, aMCS, GMCS.

I misplaced the Jayhawks into Iowa (that one was for all of you Hawkeye fans). And I was convinced that my peanut butter choices were "smooth" or "ChunkY" so when I ESPied 64A, you know what I put in. But I figured Joe Biden's 36 years were spent as neither a Sun nor an Suv so.....

And finally, I got half of @LMS and @Nancy's DNF - I caught the ODORANa but left in the SHEa. All of this in 13:41 - a mere FIVE MINUTES plus over my Wednesday average.

So thanks for the workout, but this was a bunch of MAlaRKEY for me! :-).

Joe Bleaux 1:21 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Masked and Anonymous 1:24 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Masked and Anonymous 1:39 PM  

@RP: Ahar! "blecchness"!?! Shoot, dude. And yet here's a puz with The Circles, 4 15-letter themers plus a long revealer-themer, plus long vertical stacks in the corners! (MCML! … tough construction country for old men!)

M&A's storybook puzmoments:
* ONE (first entry I filled in) and LOSTONESMARBLES (but found one's ONE again).
* MACABRE. Primo-lookin word.
* IREFUL. Word with that ohso-pleasin bouquet of desperation. Almost a desperspiration, if U will.
* BEECH. It has "beecchness" to it. har
* ODORANT. = {BO bug??}.
* KANS. = {Korn kontainer??}.
* CREAMY/CLAM. Another of them neat word sets that M&A enjoys. Unlike that there MCML/GMCS/RAS/KANS/SEN one.
* OBE. "Help m&e, OBE-ONE KANS-OBE … U are my only hope!"

Sooo … some good, bad, and ugly stuff. But still, a fun (and fairly easy) solvequest. Thanx, Mr. Markey.

Masked & AnonymoUUs


JC66 1:44 PM  


if @anon9:33 doesn't know what a DUMMY is in bridge, why would he know what a declarer is?


Check this out if you're interested in how to play bridge 1:47 PM  

I am a big fan of your blog. i am so excited by read of your blog's content. really great post.

Blackmagic Design Micro Cinema Camera

Masked and Anonymous 1:52 PM  


Had some fierce blog-postin troubles, and the first of my "storybook puzmoments" got lost in the shuffle.
It was, of course:

* POO. Heroic, only non-abbr. (and fave) weeject in the runtzline of POS-POO-RAS-CEO.

"Stomped Again, Blog-Breath"


BarbieBarbie 2:08 PM  

As a chemist I can tell you yes, an oderant is a thing.
Apologies for drawing on actual experience for that one, but I needed to defend the use of a perfectly good word.
I now must go and inform my engineer colleagues that they are henceforth restricted to working only with mechanical devices converting thermal energy to work.

Charles Flaster 2:22 PM  

Late to the fray.
This one was easy and uneventful although I had a DNF as I never changed PlS to POS.
Circles were neither a help nor a hindrance.
Liked cluing for FLAK and MACHINE WSSHABLE.
Thanks JPM

chefbea 2:31 PM  

Thanks everyone for explaining. I get it now...I thought the colon : was part of it.

Anonymous 2:49 PM  


Forget about it, it's Z town.

J.J. Gittes

QuasiMojo 2:55 PM  

@Tita A -- lucky you! Dordogne is spectacular.

Anonymous 3:09 PM  

The only Swift that matters. Jonathan.

Chapter two of a Voyage to Lilliput. ( 7th paragraph)

In the left there was a sort of engine, from the back of which were extended twenty long poles, resembling the pallisados before your majesty's court: wherewith we conjecture the man–mountain combs his head; for we did not always trouble him with questions, because we found it a great difficulty to make him understand us.

Lindsay 3:11 PM  

@Tita --- I believe the unabridged idiom is "happy as a clam at high tide". The clam is happy because the clamflats aren't exposed to diggers looking for dinner.

As for today's puzzle, yeah, the fill was junky but ADIRONDACK CHAIR made me think of sitting outside in the summer sun, and as we still have snow on the ground that made me happy. Like the clam at high tide.

Hartley70 3:11 PM  

@Tita, don't keep me hanging. Describe how MEAD tastes, please.

Rad 3:57 PM  

@ Loren
I'd love some clarification on what that immunity is, ha.
I had the same DNF and the initial same problem as you in the SW. I figured out ODERANT After getting ANTE, but "SHEA" looked enough like a name to me. Once I had SHE_ and NTS_ then I just tried D, T and then every other letter on the iPhone until the puzzle completed. (I haven't finished Sunday's yet, as seen in later comments)
It also took me until your post to get the "ah-ha moment" on the cluing (crisis time) revealer. I think a little more positively of it now. Somehow I had MIRDLE AGE without looking at it, due to already figuring out the theme, so once I fixed it, I didn't check the clue again.
@ Nancy - I also wondered about the RAMA RANA, but with OBE and ODE and ONE... I thought "whatever." Thanks for the Bridge explanation, I had that question, too. It's probably the most popular game that I am clueless about, except for the cardinal directions being "positions" as seen in a few puzzles recently.

@Unknown/Ted: I actually had BATTERY instead of ENGINES for that very reason. I knew something was weird due to the pluralization, though.

@Roo: Same problem here, OBE is NEW to me. What is it short for? My guess was an Obituary?

@M&A - Wish you had some deODORANT for that IREFUL bouquet?

kitshef 4:17 PM  

@Rad - OBE is Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, often shorthanded as Order of the British Empire, or further shortened to OBE.

Crane Poole 4:18 PM  

That's two Rudy references and two Purple People Eater references in just days... Eventful those, not necessarily bad. But roman numerals denoting the start of the Korean War seemed clunky, "lay off" = IDLE does not work for me, nor "gets in trouble" = TELLS ON, OPTI/POO cross flungered me. More. I won the fight here but themers were not worth the price. Obviously with Rex here but always among the thankful for the @LMS take. And you, and you, and you.

Anonymous 4:29 PM  

My 1968 Random House Dictionary says:
ENGINE: 1.A machine for converting thermal energy into mechanical energy or power to produce force and motion.

But c'mon we've come a long way since 1968 (see search ENGINE) but ELECTRIC ENGINES is still wrong because Tesla says things that power Teslas (see clue) are ELECTRIC MOTORS.

1820 Stone Colonial House 4:57 PM  

OBE is Order of the British Empire
A cock-a-poo is not a "breed" of dog, but the result of mating a Cocker Spaniel with a French Poodle producing a cute name and a mongrel dog.

Rob 5:18 PM  

What absolute garbage masquerading as a puzzle. Nobody abbreviates Kansas as KANS, it's KS or nothing. If your puzzle requires the use of KANS, you should rework your puzzle until it doesn't. Clue for AIM is terrible and barely qualifies as accurate. I've seen Rudy several times but there was no chance I'd remember ARA. Roman numerals for modern-era years are usually pretty bad. Tons of short, terrible 3-letter fill that has no business in any puzzle. OBE EOS AIM ESS ARA.

mathgent 5:19 PM  

I just finished doing the Wednesday WSJ. Constructed. by Jeff Chen. It was everything that its NYT counterpart was not. Smart, witty, with a fresh theme.

GILL I. 5:19 PM  

I can't speak for @Tita's MEADS experience but I'll tell you what I think of it. I first had it at a friend of my brothers farm in upstate New York (near the ADIRONDACKS - no kidding)... As you know, it's fermented honey with added anything you like. Paul liked the blueberries that grew on the farm and he would add fresh mint and (GARP) oregano!!!! It's a process not for the faint of heart. I'm told you can make it dozens of different ways. In a nutshell, it tastes god-awful. Just pour yourself some hot tea and add a dash of honey and vodka. Much better.
"Better Call Saul" is BAAAACK on Netflix. Yay....My evenings in front of the tube just got better.

Margaret 5:19 PM  

This past Sunday I struggled trying to figure out how to put "Purple" into an answer I knew had to be "Purple People Eater." (Got it eventually.) And now, only three days later I meet the little creature again. Are we seeing the beginning of a trend?

I will add that the midlife crisis is greatly exaggerated. Most of us glide through middle age as we did every stage of life before -- some ups, some downs.

But when the Purple People Eater returns from the realm of my adolescence, what can I say but "Tequila!"

GILL I. 5:20 PM  

That's addressed to you, amiga @Hartley...:-)

jae 6:27 PM  

Easy-medium for me and I mostly agree with @Rex on this one. Although I was OK with KANS until I read @Rob's comment. It is a bit of a stretch.

Anonymous 6:49 PM  

Rex, you have been ripping up perfectly good puzzles. To quote Robin Williams from "Good Morning Vietnam," "You're in more dire need of a blowjob than any white man in history." lol

Anonymous 7:17 PM  

Mead is best savored in only one place in the world: The place called "Holy Island" off the coast of Northumberland, also known as "Holy Island." They make an excellent mead there, and the island is remarkable, since it is cut off twice a day by the high tides. Good pub, too!

Unknown 7:57 PM  

My iPad autocorrecting "gnar" says if all.

Anonymous 9:02 PM  

BarbieBarbie said...
As a chemist I can tell you yes, an oderant is a thing

Seems like you'd be able to spell it, then.

Anonymous 9:04 PM  

Meh Wednesday, not the best puzzle ever, nor the worst. This Trump guy really has Rex's panties in a twist. Go have a flagon of mead. Everything will work out ok.

BarbieBarbie 9:25 PM  

Yeah whatever, Anon. I don't proofread my comments and I probably should. I'll do better next time. And you can be king of the smart-hill.

Charles Flaster 9:29 PM  


Steve 9:48 PM  

Someone asked when is middle age. Ogden Nash knew: Senescence begins and middle age ends The day your descendants outnumber your friends.

Space Is Deep 10:35 PM  

Much harder than a normal Wednesday

Leapfinger 12:23 AM  

Very funny, @kitshef! (I also like to LIE SLOW, but often find I have to STAND FAST)

Will have to check just what exactly is a 'plonker'.

Got a much bigger kick out of @QuasiMojo's rant than from @Rex's, cept that I think a hen with a squashed nest would probably just go looking for another nest. Anyhow, the proper word is layabout, and I wouldn't lie about that.

Late for Wednesday, see you Thursday. (I'm excited: I saw it's an Asheville production!

Gene Poole 12:54 AM  

@1820 StoneAge, you may call a cockapoo a 'mongrel', but @Gregor Mendel just called and he said he calls it a healthier heterozygote.

Anonymous 1:01 AM  

Alright, alright!! You can be king of the WASHABLE smart-hill!

Anonymous 3:55 AM  

Is alright a word?

Burma Shave 10:39 AM  


it TELLSON ONE, like the EDSEL’S miles.
HECK, don’t DENOUNCE the TIMER’s turned the page,


spacecraft 11:04 AM  

I've seen this constructor's name before; don't care if I ever see it again, if this is the best he can do. Let me put it this way: if crossword puzzles were cars, this ONE would be an EDSEL.

I wanted POSTAL for 1-down, but it didn't compute. Scanned about for a place to start and found a "year" clue, which since this isn't a cross-NUMBER puzzle means we have a RRN. And that crossed by a car company acronym: I had just completed two entries--and had yet to print a vowel! Pat! Vanna! Help me!

Returning, eventually, to the NW, I saw that it wasn't that tough--once you accept IREFUL. I dutifully forced myself to print that column of letters, but that doesn't mean I accept that (real, go figure!) word. Sometimes I think that the English language is in need of a good CLEANSE. This word is totally unnecessary; IRATE is not only congruent but shorter. And oh yeah, actually IN the language. Reminds me of the old Carlin schtick: "Flammable, inflammable, non-flammable: don'tcha think two words oughta cover that? I mean, either a thing flams or it doesn't." Oh, George, I miss ya!

One other thing in the NW that bothered me: the clue for TELLSON (in itself a bad partial). Yeah, gets in trouble--with the culprit. That's why so many refuse to "rat." It's not out of some honor-among-thieves pride, it's out of fear of retribution, pure and simple. But "gets in trouble?" That phrase usually means "with the law." I object to that clue: it discourages witnesses from coming forward and doing their civic duty.

There is some good longer fill here, and a couple of the fifteens are kinds cool, but nowhere near worth the rest of it. I even forgot to look for a DOD; no, I'm not going back over it. The title will remain vacant for today. I can't imagine Will not sending this back for a revamp. Double bogey.

Diana,LIW 1:13 PM  

My eraser got a workout today. Eventually, I completed the puzzle. Took a while for ANTE to show up, but then I could get the SW.

Except for my SHEa vs. SHEB. Foul. Didn't have the advantage that the futurelanders frequently mentioned. (Yeah - spoiler alert.)

But I was shocked - shocked I tell you - that GNAR didn't make OFL's list of utter rot. That A was my final letter (guess) as I didn't want to put it there. (Didn't know ARA, obviously.)

Overall the puz wasn't good or bad - just kinda there, and I was happy to be able to finish. Only to find my one-letter dnf. The lady sighs.

leftcoastTAM 2:47 PM  

Resisted NW corner start because ITCHY was too obvious, RELEE as well, and IREFUL unlikely and awkward. So took a bit of time to find a good foothold.

That came in the SE with ADIRONDACKCHAIR and MACHINEWASHABLE and it was fairly quick work from there.

Theme was fine, except the various ages were not in the middle of the theme answers, which would have been harder to pull off. MIDDLEAGE was in the middle of the grid, and must credit that, I suppose.

Liked this one despite (or because of?) that NW fake-out.

rain forest 3:19 PM  

My first puzzle since last Thursday (golf trip with 11 of my closest friends, plus a stint of babysitting), and I had a little trouble with it, for some reason. I thought there was lots to like though, and I don't care that IRON doesn't span two words. I just don't.

My experience as a middle school principal came to the fore with "gets into trouble". Kids say that wrt TELLS ON because they are getting someone else into trouble by telling on them. That's their thinking.

Nonetheless, I DNF because I thought NASB (national aeronautics safety board) seemed OK to me, and I get all confused with American acronyms. If I'd checked, I should have got ODORANT. I guess the "T" is for "transportation, no?

I kind of liked it, but that's not new.

rondo 3:41 PM  

I knew OFL would rail about IRON being from only one word. Didn’t have my TIMER on, but the IREdUp write-over was the only slowdown.

Didn’t think of CINERAMA as a “format”, like widescreen 16:9 or televisions old 4:3.

Searched the ENTIRE grid and found no yeah baby today. Probably one of the Three’s Company gals on the early episodes of spin-off The ROPERS?

So, kinda weak theme and no yeah baby, but what the HECK?

Unknown 6:50 PM  

I had absolutely no symptoms or warnings that I had cancer. In March 2007 I suddenly felt like I had diarrhea but it was all blood and I went to the ER. I bled profusely through the rectum for an hour or so until they got it stopped. The doctor did a colonoscopy and found a stage II cancer, i was devastated when my doctor broke the sad news to me because i thought that was the end for me because i have heard so much news about how cancer have stolen away the lives of patients. With time i developed a 'belly' when all my life my abdomen was flat. I was still in my search for a cure after undergoing chemo and radiation thrice Until a friend of mine directed me to doctor Amber and advised me to try alternative medicine, which i did because then my doctor was no longer helpful at all and i had given up on myself. I got the herbal medicine which was relatively small in size, which i took for 10 weeks. For the past two and half years, I have had two additional colonoscopies and two CT scans, plus blood tests. So far, no recurrence, i am indeed really grafeful to GOD and Dr.Amber who stood by me and made all this happen through his medicine. Never give up hope and if you find yourself in the situation i was some years ago you can also contact him too via his personal email

kate 6:11 AM  

As a sign of gratitude for how my wife was saved from CANCER, i decided to reach out to those still suffering from this.
My wife suffered cancer in the year 2013 and it was really tough and heartbreaking for me because she was my all and the symptoms were terrible, she always complain of abnormal vaginal bleeding, and she always have pain during sexual intercourse. . we tried various therapies prescribed by our neurologist but none could cure her. I searched for a cure and i saw a testimony by someone who was cured and so many other with similar body problem, and he left the contact of the doctor who had the cure to cancer . I never imagined cancer. has a natural cure not until i contacted him and he assured me my wife will be fine. I got the herbal medication he recommended and my wife used it and in one months time she was fully okay even up till this moment she is so full of life. cancer. has a cure and it is a herbal cure contact the doctor for more info on on how to get the medication. Thanks for reading my testimony.

Blogger 2:42 AM  

Are you looking for free Twitter Followers?
Did you know that you can get these AUTOMATICALLY AND TOTALLY FOR FREE by registering on Like 4 Like?

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP