Long-term inmate / MON 4-10-17 / King topper / Like some processed apples / Henry L secretary of war during WW II / Designer letters on handbag / Alliance that keeps wary eye on Russia

Monday, April 10, 2017

Constructor: Lonnie Burton

Relative difficulty: Medium (normal Monday) (2:56)

THEME: BOND (007D: What the answers to the starred clues share, in two ways) — the BOND linking all the theme answers is that they all played James BOND on screen:

Theme answers:
  • SEAN CONNERY (17A: *1962-67, 1971)
  • TIMOTHY DALTON (27A: *1987-89)
  • ROGER / MOORE (35A: With 39-Across, *1973-85)
  • PIERCE BROSNAN (48A: *1995-2002)
  • DANIEL CRAIG (63A: *2006-)
 NOTE (on .puz / e-version): 

Word of the Day: Henry L. STIMSON (26D: Henry L. ___, secretary of war during W.W. II) —
Henry Lewis Stimson (September 21, 1867 – October 20, 1950) was an American statesman, lawyer and Republican Party politician and spokesman on foreign policy. He served as Secretary of War (1911–1913) under Republican William Howard Taft, and as Governor-General of the Philippines (1927–1929). As Secretary of State (1929–1933) under Republican President Herbert Hoover, he articulated the Stimson Doctrine which announced American opposition to Japanese expansion in Asia. He again served as Secretary of War (1940–1945) under Democrats Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, and was a leading hawk calling for war against Germany. During World War II he took charge of raising and training 13 million soldiers and airmen, supervised the spending of a third of the nation's GDP on the Army and the Air Forces, helped formulate military strategy, and oversaw the Manhattan Project, which built the first atomic bombs, and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (wikipedia)
• • •

Well, if you like remembering James Bonds and / or like having the theme answers be very very very easy to get, then here you go. This is a straight trivia puzzle with nothing interesting going on at all *except* the cute idea of having the revealer come at (00)7-Down. Also, the grid is crammed with theme material, which means the fill suffers quite a bit. I kept wanting to tear out and rewrite everything east (and inclusive) of STIMSON—STETSON is so much better—but then I realized that MOORE *has* to be there ... and so we endure everything that that entails. Here's the thing, though ... OK, full disclosure re: this puzzle. I never read the "constructor's notes" at the NYT puzzle site. Ever. Like, ever. I find them ridiculous and self-serving. But, today, this one time, I'm gonna link to them, because you really should read them. If you don't want to click through and read them, the short version is: the constructor is in prison in the state of Washington, and has been for 26 years. Having taught in a maximum security prison in New York, I know how hard it is for prisoners to get access to even basic resources, so the fact that today's constructor was able to make a puzzle this competent, entirely by hand, under those conditions, is remarkable. I think that's all I have to say on the matter today.

See you back here tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:08 AM  

Medium for me too. Although this has been done before, making it work for a Mon. without much dreck could not have been easy, plus there's the 007 thing. Liked it.

I read the notes on Xwordinfo, pretty impressive.

Fountains of Golden Fluids 12:23 AM  

Does anyone remember laughter?

Anonymous 12:59 AM  

I just looked up what the constructor did to end up in his current residence. His statement on Xwordinfo that he "did some pretty bad things in [his] youth" now seems like a particularly chilling understatement.

puzzlehoarder 1:05 AM  

Oddly this was one of the few times I've come to this site without reading the consructor's notes first. It's late.
With the exception of STIMSON and one write over this just flew by. The write over was DDE/DDS. For a moment I thought 69A was going to be some kind of ECCE HOMO mashup. No just plain old SCHMO.

Brian 1:14 AM  

As Will Shortz notes, the NYT has done this theme before (twice, actually, once as a Tuesday and once with even more Bond trivia on a Sunday). As a result, it has no new words that have never appeared in a times puzzle, and beyond that, there's a lot of super common fill - I broke my Monday record today.

I'm with Rex, though, the story of its construction is really impressive.

Mr. Fitch 1:26 AM  

This is a perfectly decent Monday puzzle.

Take it for what it's worth, but many people who believe in redemption also believe that redemption comes after a person has served his sentence, not before. It also strikes me as risky for Shortz and the NYT to publish someone convicted of raping a boy at gunpoint, assuming--and this is a pretty big assumption, given that they haven't said anything about his crimes--that this is the same Lonnie Burton: http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/supreme-court-refuses-to-rule-on-mans-47-year-sentence-for-rape/ This isn't quite your average "made some mistakes in my youth" type of crime.

zevonfan 1:56 AM  

It's the same Lonnie Burton. Felt the same way you did Mr. Fitch. Glad to see that his particular prison appears to provide access to useful educational material. Not the case in most, if not all, of the prisons in my particular state.

Mike in Mountain View 2:03 AM  

I am at a loss to see what Mr. Fitch deems "risky" about the New York Times publishing a crossword puzzle constructed by someone convicted of a horrible crime. Mr. Burton may still be too dangerous to be released (even a quarter of a century after the acts that led to his imprisonment); I have no way of knowing. But his puzzle is not dangerous, unless it is dangerous to prove that a convicted criminal, even one convicted of a horrible crime, can be capable of creating a puzzle worthy of publication.

Larry Gilstrap 2:21 AM  

Totally dig Lonnie's story and admire the artisanal quality of this puzzle. Kudos to his support team. We all could use one. A strength of our culture is the ideal of inclusion; remember when they were called correctional facilities? Constructors are people too. Perhaps, a little wake-up call to the crossworld?

What a great Monday puzzle covering over fifty years of cinematic history. SEAN CONNERY was the BOND that I know. I'm certain the subsequent films in the franchise reflected the fashion of the era. This was one of those puzzles where I try to fight off the theme in my solving effort, but with little luck today. Very hard to not notice those famous names cropping up from crosses.

I heard a story years ago about stimulating reading in a male juvenile facility: put a lot of James Bond books on an end riser under a sign that says, "Do Not Read These Books." Love librarians!

2D set me off on a wild goose chase. I don't know the metric system from a hole in the wall. Or, to me the metric system is Shinola and what I know is s#*t. I glaze over, and I have good friends who are Canadian, for example. I own a piece of property that is an hectare, or nearly 2.5 acres. My phone has a calculator, so I started monkeying around with square miles, and acres, and CCS, and Celsius and...no clue.

Here's a call to action: If we are one of those fortunate enough to be able to around freely, then there is little excuse not to Carpe DIEM the heck of this Monday.

Mr. Fitch 2:35 AM  

There's obviously nothing dangerous about the puzzle. What's at stake here is the NYT's perceived willingness to employ someone who may be serving time for rape at gunpoint—again, assuming that this is the same Lonnie Burton, which I can't say for sure that it is. Until it's clear that this is actually the same person, I'm going to reserve judgment. Lonnie Burton isn't the world's least common name, even though the dates match up (the crime occurred in 1991, and the note says he's been in jail 26 years.

Robin 2:40 AM  

What! No love for GEORGE LAZENBY? Grrrrr.....

Oh well, at least some pints for getting the BONDs (that were listed) in order.

Finished a bit faster than average Monday, but hey, I actually entered STIMSON with only one cross filled in.

Ellen S 3:23 AM  

It's an impressive constructing feat, but the note is wrong that the "007" won't affect the solving. It sure did -- I saw the 007 and put in BOND without having even looked at any of the themes. Then when I got to the italicized clues, having already exposed the revealer, I knew they were people who had played Bond, and it only remained to dredge up who went when, and that wasn't hard.

As for the actors, I liked Roger Moore the best, Daniel Craig second.

Anonymous 3:26 AM  

Mr. Fitch, do you think Shortz shouldn't have run the puzzle, or are you just concern trolling?

chefwen 3:27 AM  

Saw the first 007 movie and that was it for me, just not the type of movie I prefer, but with all the hype surrounding every one, knowing the actors was no mystery.

PIERCE BROSNAN has a place just north of us in Hanalei, I've never seen it or him, if he sat next to me at a bar and had a beer I still wouldn't know who he was, that's how obtuse I am. Now SEAN CONNERY, that's an entirely different story.

Aketi 3:51 AM  

Seems like we had. BOND puzzle not that long ago so I had no trouble filling in more than just my fav, SEAN CONNERY.

@Mr Fitch, Its not like the New York Times is paying for a million dollar book or movie deal that some criminals manage to wangle for their life stories while still in jail. Are you arguing that he has no right to have his puzzle published? Or that criminals should not be paid for their work? If redemption had anything to do with serving a sentence, there would be no such thing as repeat offenders. At least he appears to be doing something productive while serving his time and in his own words "seeking redemption" which is not the same thing as having achieved redemption, and is certainly better than the alternative.

Loren Muse Smith 4:16 AM  

This is a perfect Monday for beginning solvers. I’m with @jae – I didn’t see much drek in the fill. STIMSON went in via the crosses, so I didn’t really notice it. Anyone who builds the grid and fills it by hand impresses me. As Rex says – “remarkable.”

Of course the note pretty much gives away the theme (hi, @Ellen S), but I liked the play on the word BOND.

Too bad 37A couldn’t have been “spy.”

I usually try to go back and read Jeff Chen’s take on the puzzle and eat up the constructors’ “ridiculous” and “self-serving” comments. It’s fun to read how they got the idea, the troubles they ran into, the clues that were changed, the back-and-forth with Will… And Jeff manages to lead with a run-down of the aspects he appreciates and then point out, deftly, without vitriol, the parts he doesn’t care for.

51D LIFER – “long-term inmate.”

I think I’ll take @Larry Gilstrap’s suggestion, get out there and carpe me some diem today. Maybe have a martini – shaken, not stirred.

evil doug 4:54 AM  

Stetson? A hat....

Now read that brief STIMSON bio again, and tell me that Stetson would be a better answer. Typical--today we celebrate a bunch of guys who've made big bucks pretending to be heroes, and trivialize the real ones....

I hated reading. But when I was cleaning United cabins at O'Hare I found a dog-eared copy of Casino Royale and started reading it when I was bored. More than just the plot, I started to notice character development, construction, credible dialogue, flow and rhythm, word choices--the art of writing. That lit the fire that still burns today, whether I'm reading or writing....

32A: "Had breakfast or lunch". Why not just breakfast, or just lunch? Because it's Monday and morons are taking a stab at the puzzle today? "Hmmmm. Had breakfast....oh! Or lunch! Now I see! ATE! Whew,that extra meal in there saved me!"

There's the *real* crime....

Lewis 6:39 AM  

@roo -- This debut was Lonnie's 75th submission to the NYT! Hang in there...

Yes, Lonnie's notes are worth reading, and thank you, Rex, for pointing them out. I liked that a couple of clues (INK, ACE) were one level more sophisticated than simply direct -- perfect for a Monday, and better than the norm, where every single clue is direct. Very simple misdirects that Mondays could use more of. I also like the RAISE up, PLAN out, and ATE in. Quite fortuitous for Lonnie that there are two pairs of Bond portrayers with equal numbers of letters in their names.

Curiosity made me look for other Bond portrayers that weren't in the puzzle, and I discovered that David Niven was one of them. Ha! Don't remember that, and I probably saw it (Casino Royale).

A confluence that made me smile was the joining of LIBERAL and LIFER over there on the Left.

Anonymous 6:51 AM  

Mikey, how can you "find them ridiculous and self-serving" if you've never, ever read them?

Z 7:01 AM  

Personal record. I may break 5:00 yet.

1991? AOL for DOS launched.. The USSR split up. Gulf War I was fought. Rodney King was beat up by cops on tape. Comedy Central came into being. Thurgood Marshall was replaced by Clarence Thomas. Pan Am and Eastern stopped flying. Will Shortz wasn't the editor of the NYTX. My oldest was born.

pmdm 7:09 AM  

Loren Muse Smith: You mean you don't find the constructor notes "ridiculous and self-serving," gee, what a shock. I suspect you're not, but that statement could be taken as a pot shot at someone. I appreciate your use of the words "deftly" and "vitriolic" because I think that sums up what those who complain about this blog's write-ups are talking about.

I read that the violinist Fritz Kreisler used to write little ditties which he claimed were written by more famous composers of the past. I think they were fairly well received until people learned who really composed the pieces. I firmly believe it shouldn't matter the source: things should speak for themselves. Granted, I would feel odd solving a puzzle I knew was constructed by Hitler or Assad, but without that information my reaction to the puzzle would depend on the puzzle itself, which is propably how it should be. In reality, the puzzle could have been submitted with his friend's name given as the constructor, in which case no one would give a hoot about who constructed the puzzle. I had better sign off or I might begin to sermonize.

Yeah, what a great story 7:29 AM  



Hungry Mother 7:32 AM  

I read each of Ian Fleming's works as soon as published. Great writing for a young guy to read. I'd like to blame Fleming for my overindulgence of martinis until 1989, but I think my father was my role model there. Quick solve for me today. Brosnon was ruined by having to take that role in "Mama Mia".

Birchbark 7:33 AM  

I like "Stimson" better than the crosswordese "stetson." Might have clued it as "Our Town's" choirmaster, but probably not on Monday.

For what it's worth, W.C. Minor, who contributed tens of thousands of citations to the first Oxford English Dictionary, was a convicted murderer serving a life sentence (the OED's editor only learned that when Minor was unable to attend a banquet honoring his accomplishments).

Walt Whitman was a pioneer in the genre of self-serving commentary, penning numerous reviews of his poetry and other writings under pseudonyms.

chefbea 7:47 AM  

Great puzzle!!! Saw all the Bond movies when Sean Connery played the roll. Never heard of Timothy Dalton or Stinson. Now to go read all about the constructor

chefbea 7:52 AM  

WOW!!!! What a great story!!!

John Child 7:58 AM  

The past is never entirely forgotten nor forgiven, but it is past. Every one of us has history; we can only go forward.

A trivia puzzle is fine on Monday, and this was well done with a clever gimmick. And by hand! We have seen puzzles by often-published constructors using the best computer assistance that aren't this strong. Congratulations to Mr. Burton on the debut.

kitshef 8:05 AM  

@Ellen S - I'm with you on ROGER MOORE, though we seem to be in the minority.

@Lewis - the original Casino Royale is a hoot, but the Bond movie canon is normally limited to the Eon Films productions. Never Say Never Again is also non-canon.

Anonymous 8:39 AM  

No, this is not a great story - at least not if it's true that the constructor raped someone at gunpoint. Everyone has a history? Sure, but for someone (like me) whose "history" includes being raped it isn't that easy going "forward".

Off topic I guess for an xword blog, but it's amazing to me how clueless some of you are.

Nate 8:43 AM  

Perfectly cromulent Monday puzzle. There's nothing in this puzzle that will be completely baffling to the under-30 puzzlers, which is exactly how a Monday should play.

Stanley Hudson 8:46 AM  

Interesting back story. I'm not without sin, so won't cast the first stone.

RooMonster 8:48 AM  

Hey All !
Disappointed I didn't get the 007 clue or grid number! Agree with @Loren, SPY in the middle (37A) would've been cool.

Hand filled grid. I've made a few hand filled grids myself, although they're not the best. I have one that has O as the only vowel, but it has too many blocks. This one is good, although George Lazenby is missing! He's 13 letters though, would probably have to go top/bottom symmetry to fit him in.

@Lewis - Har. Thanks for the encouragement.

Overall a nice MonPuz. Had a writeover at top-END. I haven't seen any of the DANIEL CRAIG as BOND movies yet, hard to believe he's been BOND since '06. I grew up with ROGER MOORE, and always liked PIERCE BROSNAN in that role.


John Child 8:55 AM  

@Anon at 8:39: I certainly didn't intend any hurt by my comment. I am sorry. Contact me directly if you like. (My email address shows if you click the blue name for my post.) I would like to understand more.

His Radiance 8:59 AM  

Easy. Pleasant Monday morning morsel.

Anonymous 9:04 AM  

Thanks, Rex, for including your time. Besting you (even if only by a second) always puts an extra hop in my step for the day. :)

QuasiMojo 9:06 AM  

I wonder if he wrote this puzzle on Bond paper. As someone who constructs puzzles on paper myself, I was glad to hear more about the process. I am not tech savvy enough to figure out how to download a grid. If someone wants to send me some, let me know. I also am eager to know more about how people choose a grid design. I literally spent hours drafting mine and then finding I had missed a blank space or two. Very frustrating. But I love the challenge.

What I don't love is James Bond. I think his stories and movies are completely overrated. Not too long ago I rewatched Dr. No thinking it would be like sinking back into a comfortable chair or slipping on well-worn shoes. Instead what I found was a totally inept film with racist overtones and a ludicrous script. Other than "Goldfinger" which has some camp charm, the other entries into the series are time wasters. The last one I saw was "Casino Royale" and it was definitely a "royale" pain in the Biblical mount. It takes "suspension of disbelief" to a whole new level.

Anonymous 9:07 AM  

I have a question. Do you know those really simple crossword puzzles that local papers used to publish--probably still do? My local paper I think still has them, along with a 6-wk-old NY Times puzzle. They were crammed with the sort of crosswordese that Rex complains about, had no proper nouns (I think), no computerese, no clues from pop culture. I recall hearing some 40 years ago that almost all these were constructed by prisoners. This before computers could help with construction, and one simply had to have the time to do the boring fill, and one had to be willing to construct the puzzle and be paid almost nothing--so they were sort of ideal for prisoners (I guess). I know nothing about crossword construction aside from what I read here. Just curious!

His Radiance 9:14 AM  

Easy. Pleasant Monday morning morsel.

Charles Flaster 9:25 AM  

Very easy and remember the other BOND offerings quite well.
One writeover was END for top.
Crosswordease --ORE IDA, RIA, and ORCAS.
On a personal note, SEAN CONNERY captured the essence of the books. --others did not.
Fine debut.
Thanks LB

Nancy 9:41 AM  

Mildly pleasant, but with no thinking required. Not for the solver, at least. To construct even the most rudimentary puzzle, though, I've always thought that you would need vast amounts of time and patience. Lonnie Burton obviously has plenty of the former and would seem to have a more than enough of the latter as well. This is one of the pleasures of Rexworld -- finding out things about a puzzle you never would have suspected in a million years. Who knows what LB might have accomplished in life had he not so thoroughly screwed it up? He is obviously not without talent. I hope he continues to produce puzzles -- good ones -- in the future.

Hartley70 9:50 AM  

Today's puzzle says much more about Will Shortz than it does the constructor.

GILL I. 9:54 AM  

SEAN CONNERY gets a LEI, TIMOTHY DALTON catches MEG, PIERCE BROSNAN nabs the CADS, DANIEL CRAIG sits on CUTER but poor ROGER MOORE gets stuck with a LUG. @Loren's SPY...Yes!
In our house on New Years Day, my husband takes out all the old BOND movies and has a watch-fest. Our kids loved it. I didn't care because I would be in the kitchen nursing a hang-over.
I liked all the BONDS but thought DANIEL CRAIG didn't look bondish. Just look at SEAN's eyebrows and you'll know what I mean.
Hey Lonnie Burton - good job.

kitshef 9:58 AM  

And by the way, John Stetson did a lot of good in his life, and is surely crossword worthy.

Jonathan 10:08 AM  

I am sorry-- but I do NOT want to solve the puzzle of someone convicted of *multiple* counts of child rape, and then have to hear about his putting together a crossword puzzle in prison "remarkable". I may be a bleeding heart liberal, but I'm still nauseated by the whole thing. Here is the relevant info on today's esteemed constructor: http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19941101&slug=1939129

Nancy 10:10 AM  

@Quasi (9:06) -- I also always thought that the Bond books and movies were overrated too. My main reason? Gadgets. Yes, people, long before the days of the IPhone, the IPod and the IPad, the WII and the WIFI, et al, ad nauseum, I hated gadgets. Ian Fleming always seemed inordinately fond of things like guns disguised as cigarette cases (or some such), sports cars that were deadly in some unexpected way or that morphed into something else -- stuff like that. For me, it was all a big yawn. I wanted my thrillers to be about people, not gadgets.

Still, I could happily watch SEAN CONNERY read the phone book.

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

Hi John Child - anon here. Thank you. Again, probably all of this is very off topic for this blog. And I'm sorry for saying you were clueless. It is just that rape - particularly when it occurs to a child - affects the victim for life. There's no real moving forward from it. Puzzles are a therapeutic, challenging, fun part of my life and not a place I ever expected to be triggered by a childhood trauma. I doubt I'm the only one.

QuasiMojo 11:09 AM  

@Nancy -- you crack me up. :)

Nehi Kid 11:26 AM  

I'm sure Mr. Burton's victims enjoyed seeing his byline today and reading the puff-piece notes from Shortz and him. Excuse me while I vomit.

Carola 11:56 AM  

@Gill I. - I, too, got a smile out of ROGER "(Big) LUG" MOORE.

Rob 11:56 AM  

Solid puzzle, ethics nothwithstanding. I may be biased as I set a personal Monday best with it -- they're silly, but I'm fond of and collect the Bond flicks -- although I'm not quite to Rex-level times! I agree with Robin above that George Lazenby didn't get an entry, although he was only in one of the Bond films (On Her Majesty's Secret Service) and I don't actually like it very much.

wgh 12:05 PM  

I kinda feel icky now.

Anonymous 12:47 PM  

Hopefully when he first went to prison, an eye for an eye was upheld. Or another part of the anatomy, if you know what I'm getting at. Lets get a puzzle from Kim-Jong Il next.

Teedmn 1:16 PM  

I haven't seen any Bond films in their entirety in years, but I did catch a fun Danish movie, Love Is All You Need starring Pierce Brosnan. If you run into it on cable, take a look.

Anonymous 1:42 PM  

add my vomit to the mix. what's "remarkable" is that someone doesn't put him out of his miserable existence

Joe Bleaux 2:25 PM  

Should Mr. Burton's puzzle have been published while law-abiding constructors' submissions, some of which surely were equally worthy, were rejected? "I did some pretty bad things ... ," he acknowledges in the link. "Pretty bad things" -- as opposed to what must be described as sadistic, heinous, monstrous, purely evil things? Had Mr. Burton set a house afire (a "pretty bad thing") should that have prompted Mr. Shortz to toss his puzzle? If not, what if children whom he knew were in the house had burned alive? Should the enormity of his crime have made a crucial difference? I'm as compassionate as the next guy, and I'm all for rehabilitation. But in this case, I just don't know. What do you think?

Da Bears 2:29 PM  

Today The Gray Lady completely lost her moral compass. One comment notes that the constructor was merely submitting a puzzle, not a request for parole. But you can bet dollars to donuts that in his request for parole, the constructor will highlight his XWP published in the NYT. The constructor is a multiple offender. He is serving three consecutive sentences for three separate felonies, including the heinous crime noted in this blog by others. He also was convicted of other heinous crimes against another minor in a separate case in the State of Washington as well as other felonies in the State of Indiana. And, what outweighs all of that to qualify this puzzle for publication in the most prestigious paper in the nation? According to Will Shortz in his note on Wordplay, BOND crosses SEAN CONNERY at 7D!


Yankee Fan 2:40 PM  

Am I the only person who objects to using "medal" as a verb. It's used often by commentators during the Olympics but, in my mind, it's just lazy english

Anonymous 2:44 PM  


It doesn't sound as though you were as compassionate as the next guy.
It's unclear to me why his acts "must be described as sadistic, heinous, monstrous, purely evil things." But for the sake of argument, let's grant your proposition.
Just what actions disqualify someone from publication? must it be homicidal arson, or should we bar litters as well.

Publishing a puzzle is not vouchsafing for the constructor's character. It's not an endorsement. Why suggest that it ever could be?

We have plenty of folks in the justice system to work out the problems of crime and punishment. Let them do their job. I'm happy to let Mr. Shortz do his.

But I'm not sure your question was genuine. I suspect you, and many who have commented here, believe that you're more worthy than Mr. Burton. That you're on sufficiently high moral ground to ponder the really big questions. Like who should get published and who should be punished. Thank God for your keen mind.

Anonymous 3:03 PM  

Rex has to be nice so that Lonnie doesn't come after him when he finally gets out! Bravo to Lonnie.

Unknown 3:21 PM  

Never saw a James Bond movie and don't know some of the actors.
Someone above mentioned constructors notes. What is that ?

Joe Bleaux 4:03 PM  

Thanks for telling me what you think, as I asked. Your remarks are taken kindly, even the sarcastic closer. But if If I thought my mind were all that keen, I'd have posted more declarations and fewer questions, and wouldn't have concluded by saying honestly that I "just don't know." (And maybe you're right about the quality of my compassion; it's difficult to gin up much for armed rapists whose victims are children.)

Larry 4:13 PM  

I had to pull an all-nighter at work until about 8AM today, so I just went home to crash for a few hours. When I got up @2PM I checked on my puppy who had just been neutered on Friday, making sure the sutures were holding / that he hadn't been licking them raw. I laughed at his empty scrotum, saying aloud that that was the saddest thing I've ever seen in my life, and proceeded to do the puzzle, read Rex, read the comments.

As usual, whenever I say "ever" I'm immediately proven wrong by the dialog surrounding the constructor's past and present situation, whether it should have been published or not.

Anonymous 4:18 PM  

I didn't meantion anything about sympathy. I'm not sure anyone has asked for sympathy including Mr. Burton himself. In fact, according to Shortz he hasn't received any special consideration. The guy's batting 1 for 58 or 75, some sad rate. You asked whether it was appropriate to publish this guy's puzzle. It was clear from the outset that you didn't think it was. You still don't.
I'll ask a question. Do you think Mr. Burton has worth?
I contend that you think him, for all practical purposes, unworthy. He doesn't pass your purity test. I say every person, regardless of his ( person is singular, takes the pronouns him or his) actions, has intrinsic worth. Everyone. Armed rapists included.

Joe Bleaux 7:13 PM  

It's not what about I THINK; what I apparently failed to make clear is that I don't KNOW, hence the questions. Yes, of course he has worth. But is he worthy of favored treatment? Again, I don't know. The last word will be yours ....

Moly Shu 7:55 PM  

I wonder if Jesse Eisenberg and Neil Degrasse Tyson are now considered "worthy" of publication. Add me to the vomiting chorus.

BarbieBarbie 8:12 PM  

Well, I was initially bummed about the NY TIMES XWRD APP - Yes I said THEIR OWN DAMN APP not showing me the 007s. But now, I don't know, that seems kind of trivial.
As I recall from Son of Sam days, a prisoner is not allowed to profit (which should include gaining advantage with the parole board) from his or her crime. That's not the case here, unless WS accepted the puzzle in some measure because of its constructor's history. But still, it leaves an icky taste. On a relative scale, it's easy to take a position on capital punishment-- life in prison vs. death. But somehow when it's "this kind of life" vs. "that kind of life," both in prison, it's much harder to think through. Thank you everybody for this conversation. Lots to chew on.

Alex 9:40 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alex 9:42 PM  

I enjoyed the puzzle, and then I read about the constructor's story. I, personally, am glad that he is doing something positive with his life. I in no way excuse his past actions. And he is paying for them. I must VIGOROUSLY object to the comment by Anonymous as 12:47. Our criminal justice system is based, at least in theory, on rehabilitation. No one, and I mean NO ONE, "deserves" to be raped. No one.

Anonymous 9:52 PM  

What favored treatment?

Son of Sam days? Berkowitz was killing in 1977. The first law in NY invoking his name wasn't successfully implemented until this millennium. 2001 or 2002.
Think about that. Why do you suppose it took a quarter of a century to enact those laws?
I'm out. It's holy week. I know I could do with mercy.

BarbieBarbie 10:08 PM  

Murky memory. Sorry. Maybe the law was proposed when he got a book deal, not when he was sentenced. I'm not too clear (obviously).

Anonymous 10:31 PM  

You're memory is probably fine. I only meant that it's terribly tricky to navigate the legal landscape. It can be especially difficult to coutenance laws that seem morally wrong. But Mr. Berkowitz didn't surrender his frst ammendment rights when he was convicted.
SimiLarry, neither did Mr. Burton.
I'm not sure I understand the moral argument against publishing his puzzle at all. It is wholly unrelated to his crime. Neither the puzzle nor its publication has any moral weight.

Anonymous 11:00 PM  

Interesting that a violent criminal who raped children at gunpoint should labor away to highlight the movie exploits of a gun-toting sexual predator. Check out the barn scene with Pussy Galore if you have no idea what I mean. This puzzle made me sick. My admiration of Will Shortz has certainly dimmed. Given what we now know about the long-term impacts of sexual assault on victims, it is incredible that the Times chose to publish this mediocre puzzle and go out of its way to highlight the constructor's story. Wish it had spared a thought for the victims who no doubt have had more serious challenges to overcome these many years, than the lack of a computer.

Z 11:40 PM  

Fascinating. I disagree with half of you or so vehemently, but this isn't the place for a discussion of religion and morals.

As for puzzle related issues... As a rule I don't read the constructor's comments for the same reason I don't bother with directors' commentary, however well intentioned, it is inherently self-serving. On occasions, like today, it can be interesting. But even today's commentary is self-serving. For me, the commentariat holds more interest than the constructor's notes. I do appreciate constructors who venture here. But, to me, that respect is born from being willing to face the critics, even though they may hate what you did.
As for Jeff Chen and his "vitriol free" write-ups - As far as I know and hear he is a perfectly fine fellow whose writing style reflects his personality. Still, a positive review from him is like getting an A- from the prof who only doles out A's and A-'s. Want to feel better about yourself, Read Jeff. Want to become a better constructor, Read Rex. And, seriously, it is up to you. No one will make you read Jeff, or Rex, or Deb. The only people I really don't understand are the people who prefer Jeff's writing style but insist on reading Rex. Some form of masochism I suppose.

Milo Yiannopoulos 12:59 AM  

Constructor sounds like my kind of fella.

nick 12:36 PM  

Even before reading @Rex's note on the feat of construction here I really enjoyed this one.

Burma Shave 9:53 AM  


while TIMOTHYDALTON could do that DRILL with EASE.
ICAN not blame that SCHMO DANIELCRAIG for BEING ornery
when the MEDIA is CALLIN’ the best BOND SEANCONNERY?


spacecraft 11:12 AM  

Well, they did it to me again. Last week the sloppy Sun editors lopped off two rows of the grid; today they print the wrong clue set! AND byline: Emily Carroll. The grid is today's but I knew at once something was wrong: there was no 9-across. The clues in general look to be late-week, certainly later than Monday. The theme has something to do with going Dutch. That's all I have for today.

Lurking, Just Behind Yoy 1:02 PM  

Icky feeling in the pit of my stomach notwithstanding (after I read the notes and followed some of the links above) -

My first thought upon finishing the puzzle, and before I read any of this, was "Why is this puzzle not titled "Where's George?".

rondo 1:51 PM  

First and probably last time filling in an answer without reading a single clue. 007d and 4 spaces, what else? BOND, James BOND. I’ve read at least half of Fleming’s books, seen all of the movies, and own all but the DANIELCRAIG era on video. Puz couldn’t have been easier.

I read the constructor’s notes and was a bit surprised he didn’t mention putting in the answer LIFER. And almost no commenters above mentioned LIFER either. Thought there would be more connecting of the dots by commenters, given the constructor’s situation, but something else got in their way. Also curious to know how many people, of the many that are feeling “icky” now after learning of Lonnie Burton’s past, have no compunction about themselves or others driving or having driven Volkswagens over the years. Originally VWs were ordered by Hitler to be built, to his specifications, in large part by slave labor back at that time. Feel “icky” about that legacy? Selective and/or forgetful wrath on whom we condemn, or for what suits us, on which day, I guess.

Better use of the word TAR since the attraction has TAR in its name, but still a misnomer.

MEG Ryan makes a frequent yeah baby appearance.

BEING a BOND fan, how could I not like this puz? Regardless that the constructor may END up BEING a LIFER

leftcoastTAM 2:14 PM  


Anonymous 5:53 PM  

Speaking as a mental health professional with 37 years experience studying personality disorders and sexual predators, I can't help but believe that a lot of very good and kind people have been duped by this constructor. Getting this published was a feather in his manipulative cap. With more than one sexual predator conviction to his name, he tried to get other crimes expunged within a couple years of his imprisonment. Wish I could wish him well with his redemption, but lots and lots of experience tells me "don't be quick to believe it."

rain forest 6:53 PM  

Am I sinking into a miasma of moral turpitude when I say I liked this puzzle for what it is, an easy and well-constructed Monday.

How much do we know about the backgrounds of other constructors? Why does it matter, if the idea is to construct a puzzle and have others solve it. If I learned that constructor X regularly beat his/her spouse, but his puzzle sparkled, does that constitute an ethical cleft-stick? If I liked the puzzle, then found out about his "heinous" background, should I then climb Mount High Dudgeon and decry its publication? I don't think I understand many commenters today.

Sean Connery forever.

Anonymous 8:53 PM  

@Rainy and many others:

The moral morass is entirely the constructor's. Good people will like the puzzle. Knowing what good people believe was part of this constructor's immoral plan.

And the puzzle was likeable. Fun. Kind of a joy to suss out on a Monday. An exemplary exxample (department of redundancy department) of the Monday "beginner's" puzzle.

The constructor is the only stone in my shoe.

If your 15-year-old child was stalked to his/her home, convinced by a slick-talking con artist that he was a salesman and so could come in to your, YOUR, house, and then the same con artist brutally raped your child at gun point - how would you react to seeing a byline with that person's name on a puzzle in your Monday morning pastime?

Me? I don't know the background of every constructor. But the ones I've met and read - they are fine folks. They probably have their faults, but I doubt that serial sex offense or criminal activity is included.

Another way to look at this - would you want to buy a painting by OJ Simpson or Charles Manson? Or would you want to go to a museum to view one?

Unknown 1:26 PM  

I don't know if anyone ever comes back and reads comments on older puzzles but, I will try. I get the NYT's puzzles weeks later up here in Canada (and sometimes don't do them for a few weeks after that). In the newspaper I get them in, the right down column was cut-off in print. I quickly solved it and wanted it so much to be intentional because, when the missing letters are linked, they read: BEING EIN (german for an) OGRE. Given the constructor's past and all, I wonder... hmm...

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