Ice cream thickeners / WED 8-2-17 / Muscular Japanese dog / Nabisco's answer to Hydrox / Sneaky little snickers

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Constructor: Bruce Haight

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: words / phrases that can mean their own opposite: 

Theme answers:
  • HOLD UP (1A: Support ... or impede)
  • CONTINUE (7A: Go on with ... or postpone)
  • FIGHT WITH (23A: Go to battle alongside ... or struggle against)
  • TOSS OUT (40A: Offer for consideration .k.. or remove from consideration)
  • WEATHER (42A: Withstand ... or deteriorate)
  • OVERSIGHT (53A: Watchful care ... or careless mistake)
  • SANCTION (71A: Give approval to ... or express disapproval of)
  • RESIGN (72:A Quit ... or agree to keep going)
Word of the Day: KOI (19A: Backyard pond dweller) —
noun: koi; plural noun: koi; noun: koi carp; plural noun: koi carp
  1. a common carp of a large ornamental variety, originally bred in Japan. (google)
• • •

All the themers came from a Mental Floss list / article. You can see it here. I mean, the English language does cool things, sure, woo hoo, fun. But you get No credit for simply finding a list and then cherry-picking the list for words that fit symmetrically in a grid, particular when you totally fail to mention that fact in your self-serving Constructor Notes (on the NYT's in-house blog). No. Credit. Also, the fill is somehow still dull-to-bad. I practically choked on ESS / SHH / HEHS (the worst), to say nothing of OEN- -INI ETDS AGARS. And then there's almost nothing genuinely fun or entertaining. I do like "WE COOL?", and to a lesser extent "SURE DO!" and HAS-BEEN. But I can't endorse this cut-and-paste approach to crossword themes, especially when it's not acknowledged, and overall there's just too much mediocrity in the grid. MAY I GO? Pfffffft, OK, maybe I can write a little more.

Isn't it the chicken that's CRUSTED?? (7D: Like Parmesan on baked chicken, typically). I got terribly hung up on this answer because I had no idea what word would be modifying the damn cheese. "I'm going to crust the Parmesan?" What? The Parmesan forms the crust *of the chicken*. Panko-crusted salmon is salmon CRUSTED with panko, come on! Didn't have many other struggles, except WHOA for WHEW (25D: "That was close!"). Also, I wouldn't know anything about what you do with FURS in the summer, since I don't know anyone who wears them, so coming up with that answer was a minor struggle. Clue on REARMOST seems awfully wrong (16A: Like nosebleed-section seats, usually), since you might be emphatically in "nosebleed" territory but very much in the frontmost part of your section; that is, "nosebleed" indicates altitude and REARMOST, well, doesn't. Should tossed that clue out. Or sanctioned it. Or fought with it. Who knows?

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Whirred Whacks 12:08 AM  

Another Bruce Haight gem!

The 3 B's of crosswording: Berry, Blindauer, and Bruce.

mathgent 12:14 AM  

I liked it a lot. I've been fascinated by words like these for a long time. Especially CONTINUE and SANCTION. They're called contronyms, I just learned. Another plus.

I can't remember a Bruce Haight crossword that I haven't liked.

Unknown 12:22 AM  

Thanks, @Rex, for your review of @Bruce Haight's puzzle, including the link to the Mental Floss article which I had seen before, maybe 5 weeks ago, after @Loren Muse Smith had commented on this very forum (click and scroll to 4:19 a.m., penultimate paragraph) about a clue in @Stu Ockman's puzzle.

Curiously, my one HOLDUP was in the northwest corner, which is rather segregated from the remainder of the puzzle. Another chuckle came after correctly filling in WHEW, given the ambiguity just a few days ago (@Erik Agard's Saturday) with regard to PHEW.

Kudos to @Bruce for pulling off the contronym theme, and @Loren, guess we need to go back to the drawing board.

puzzlehoarder 12:23 AM  

This had some resistance to it. My first guess for 1A was BACKUP so I had to go back through the downs to start that section. PELEG I've dealt with recently but I still needed all the crosses. Maybe if I thought of it as a one G Pegleg I'd remember it next time. It was fun figuring out the contronyms. Jeff Chen feels the alternate meaning of RESIGN should be read as RE-SIGN as in re-up. I think it's just resign as in resign to go on. This was a normal Wednesday, no complaints.

Natick Runner 12:24 AM  

Musta been in my wheelhouse as 7 flat is about 5 min faster than my Wednesday average. GPS before NAV, but UNVEILED pointed me in the right direction.

alexa shortbush 12:29 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr. Fitch 12:36 AM  

I don't think you can knock this for "stealing" from a Mental Floss article, especially given that Mental Floss "stole" from another even longer list:

More fundamentally, these types of words are well-known; it's not as if anyone keeps a somehow exclusive and copyrighted list of them. There's even a word for the linguistic phenomenon.

I'm sure Bruce did look at some list of these things and chose which ones fit in the grid. The suggestion that he must have stolen from Mental Floss because they all appear there is unconvincing.

alexa shortbush 12:41 AM  

Sorry to delete but I just read on Xword info that this puzzle was a redo because of "weak fill" the first time around. Imagine that!

WE COOL was wonderful to see but AGARS HEHS OEN come on how hard did the constructor really try?

newspaperguy 12:48 AM  

Well, someone had a shitty vacation.

Anonymous 1:29 AM  

What's the backstory with Bruce & Rex?

Rex can't say anything good about any of Bruce's fact, he goes out of his way to demean them. Bruce is like the anti-Berry in Rex's eyes.

Did Bruce pee in Rex's cheerios at a tournament or something?

Hartley70 1:30 AM  

This was an interesting theme for me because I had never considered the idea of contronyms. Thanks Bruce and @mathgent for the formal introduction. Each themer was like a little present with "Aha" as a bow.

I think this was a medium to challenging Wednesday. The bottom half of the grid was much easier for me than the top corners. I couldn't see CRUSTED for the longest time despite that Hellman's recipe calling for mayo, bread crumbs and then Parmesan to be slabbed on a raw chicken breast and baked. It was everywhere for a while and not too bad, I have to say.

I agree the nose-bleed seats should be upperMOST and not REARMOST. They tend to be both, but the up factor hits you harder than the rear factor. I saw "Phantom" in those seats and would have liked a gondola at intermission to get down and back and squeeze in a trip to the ladies to boot. It goes without saying that the show was great from wherever.

The NW was my big problem area. I was determined to make WEgOOd work and couldn't give it up until the clock was way past my average Wednesday time. It didn't help that I didn't know the ship co-owner or that I was looking for a synonym for "right" regarding the neocon. I think one can be a liberal and still be hawkish in appropriate circumstances. I'm thinking of you, Dad.

Mike in Mountain View 1:41 AM  

If Mr. Haight did get the themers from the Mental Floss list, he should have admitted it on the blog. But it's not as if these contronyms can only be found there. I'd never been to the Mental Floss list, but I could have come up with the same themers. That wouldn't make me a plagiarist.

Mike in Mountain View 1:46 AM  

Aha. I now see I made the same point as Mr. Fitch. But I didn't plagiarize; we came up with the same idea independently. It does happen.

Anoa Bob 1:56 AM  

I don't believe I've ever heard CONTINUE used to mean postpone. Even in the legal sense, doesn't it just mean to, well, erm, CONTINUE, rather than terminate, the proceedings at a later date?

Senator George W. NORRIS served as a U.S. Representative and then as a U.S. Senator from Nebraska from 1903-1943. He was pivotal in creating the TVA and both the first hydroelectric dam built by TVA and the lake that was formed by the dam are named in his honor.

How about "Mark on a Pequod sailor, perhaps" for LASH LINE?

Trombone Tom 1:57 AM  

I liked Bruce Haight's handling of the contronyms. (The spelling of which I just learned here.) I don't disagree with many of @Rex's comments on the fill, but the review seems excessively negative. Not that that is unusual here.

As to the debate about whether the cheese or the chicken is crusted, I'll leave that to our blog chefs.

There was a fair amount of resistance in the puzzle, but I plowed through it with no hiccups. Agree that REARMOST is less likely than topmost. All in all a good Wednesday workout from Bruce H.

jae 2:23 AM  

Easy-medium for me. This made me think of the Arsenio Hall bit "Things that make you go hmmmmmm?" Contronyms are fun where ever they arose from, liked it.

chefwen 2:46 AM  

Ditto what @Hartley70 said in the first paragraph. Off of a list or not I loved this one and it was fresh to me. Made the same mistakes as were mentioned above, pHEW before WHEW and gps before NAV. Raised eyebrow ar REARMOST, thinking high, upper, etc. Didn't much care for MAY I GO either.

Bought a house in Southern California that had a KOI POND, I loved it. I, of course, named them all, but one by one they would disappear. After one disappearance I noticed little raccoon wet paw prints on the back deck. AHA! Tried everything to discourage them including sprinkling hot pepper around the perimeter, well they just thought Ooh, spicy tacos, yesss! Finally put up a electrified wire that would give then a "memorable shock". It worked, but damn near killed our cat.

Johnny 4:29 AM  

As an authority on everything I deem this puzzle "pretty good" and who cares what came from which list. Nobody cares that's who, even though it was a rhetorical question. Also, the cheese is crusted in the scenario presented, not the chicken. You may go now.

TrudyJ 4:38 AM  

I love contronyms, but this was a DNF for me because I got hung up on it being WE GOOD? instead of WE COOL? I knew PEDEG wasn't right but couldn't remember the real name, and in my math-blindness I was totally unable to see it should have been LOCI not LOGI.

evil doug 4:39 AM  

Saw Simon and Garfunkel on the level floor of an arena. The seats behind us were rearmost, but not uppermost. (We were middlemost.)

He got a lot of tricky themers to fit, so I give him plenty of credit for that. Yes, they're out there, and I don't think they require a citation. Hmmm. "Citation". Award...or traffic ticket....

"Don't tase me, bro." Love that.

Panko and crusted Parmesan chat? Well, I know that's why *I* come here....

Solid Wednesday effort.

Hungry Mother 5:21 AM  

Very fast and enjoyable this morning. I'm up at 4:30 to take a 13 mile run at 6 as part of my NYC Marathon training. All good stuff.

Thomaso808 5:32 AM  

Very gOOd. Oh, my bad, WECOOL. Yeah, that's my dnf today. That's on me, no excuse. Other than that, I really liked the theme. Up to this point in my life the main word I knew and complained about to friends as a "contronym" (new word for me) was SANCTION. It's still kind of important because ambiguous or not, it still plays a part in things like international nuclear warfare.

The other contronym used in the puzzle that I have also frequently used is OVERSIGHT. "Sorry, boss, my failure to provide adequate oversight of that design process was an oversight on my part." It's just amazing and very funny how the English language opens up all these contrasts of meaning. I wonder if the same occurs in other languages.

Anonymous 5:49 AM  

Can you say elitist?

Blogger 6:04 AM  

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Lewis 6:15 AM  

The bottom line is how the solve is -- and I liked it. Each theme answer was a little aha (as someone earlier mentioned) and the wordplay homestead in my brain adores contronyms.

The theme answer outlier is OVERSIGHT, the only noun. For "Manual reader" my first thought was BOOK. The NW and SE are islands, and the other two corners aren't far behind. I love SUEDE and SUEME in the same puzzle. And there is a Boggle-style YIN, beginning with the Y in MAYIGO, to balance out the YANG, which satisfies my Libra sensibilities.

Well, I'm on my way. I have to clip some coupons out, then clip them together.

Loren Muse Smith 6:19 AM  

@Lewis – Your Descartes themer yesterday, as others have said, was brilliant. (I still think your NC birth certificate joke was the funniest thing I’ve ever read here.)

@George – hah! You’re right – I was surprised by SANCTION a while back and sat and thought about the word. I think someone supplied the word contronym. I didn’t google it, but I did make a mental note to look into this after my &%$# GOTHIC lit class is done. I’m happy Bruce did the leg work for me today.

Rex – you were a bit easier on Matt Ginsberg when he had a theme using cool anagrams… “Please understand, though, that these aptagrams are *found*, not *invented* by the constructor. You can find any of these aptagrams out there on various anagram sites. The puzzle was pleasant to solve, but the fact that it involved no particular ingenuity on the part of the constructor means I can't bring myself to ooh and aah that much. Feels a little bit like passing someone else's cleverness off as your own.”

I run my mouth here a lot about this kind of phenomenon in English – it started a couple of years ago with @Steve J and words like unthaw, depress, debone, inflammable… that mean the same thing with or without the prefix. And we’ve talked here before about words that are used only with a prefix. I have a running list in my little notebook with such “words”: ruly, wieldy, kempt, chalant, sheveled, plussed, couth, trepid I just checked, and everyone of my words is included here. So if I had done something with this idea, would I have had to credit wikipedia?

Whatever the case, the vast majority of solvers don’t read this blog or XwordInfo, so with both puzzles, these solvers are provided a neat little list that highlights something fun about our language.

I agree with everyone else so far who thinks it’s fine that there was not a “citation.” (Good one, @Evil.)

I agree with @Johnny - the CRUSTED rant – huh? The cheese is the thing that’s most assuredly crusted. @Evil – tell us, how do you make your French Onion Soup, and do you like the cheese on top to be crusted? Please share a good recipe.

@Trudy, @Thomaso808 – me, too for “good” before COOL. Trudy – I was fortunate enough to notice the “logi” so I fixed it. Pedeg, PELEG, schmelleg.. I didn’t know that name.

If you squint, TROT out is almost a contronym:
It was all fun and games until Uncle Mike trotted out all the slides from his China vacation.
Uncle Mike trotted out of the den to the bathroom. Should’ve passed on the Kolhapuri Chicken.

So I’m with the majority of commenters so far that this was a fun solve and no biggy that some list of contronyms was not credited.

TableOrShelve 6:28 AM  

For a man shall leave his mother, and CLEAVE to his wife...

@Thomas808, there's a great article in Wikipedia under "auto-antonym." Yes, happens in all kinds of languages.

Another descriptor for these is Janus-words, which is great.

Maybe "rear" and "top" are the same word in some other language...

Roberta 6:55 AM  

Exactly the same for me!

Anonymous 7:04 AM  

All you couples out there considering divorce: Consider the long term effects on your children. Look what it did to Michael/Rex.

Glimmerglass 7:08 AM  

I agree with all those above who think Bruce Haight's use of contranyms without a citation is okay. @Mr. Fitch has it succinctly. It's Wednesday, so a few easy and familar crosses are expected (SHH, ETDS, SUR, ESS). @Rex grumbles about HEH, but I thought it was cute. Some of the other fill was good (WE COOL). Sorry, Rex, this review may say more about you than about the puzzle.

LisaG 7:11 AM  

I thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle, although I had CRUNCHY for CRUSTED at first.

I was going to say something like: "True confessions: I'm posting this to see if my name turns blue." Then I realized that maybe a confession is true by definition and I would look silly saying "true confessions". Then I wondered why I cared so much.

Then I realized I needed more coffee.

Have a good day, everyone!

kitshef 7:31 AM  

There is plenty to loathe about this puzzle without the arbitrary rant about not crediting a specific website for a list of words that has appeared in many forms and places.

In my little plus/minus system, I have a near-record number of non three-letter minuses: WE COOL (double minus), HEHS, SURE DO (double minus), LASH LINE, MAY I GO, KAMA, SUE ME (double minus), I MIGHT (double minus) NOLA - and not a single plus outside the themers.

@LisaG - false confessions are very common and a pain in the butt for police.

QuasiMojo 7:32 AM  

Did this one real FAST (which may also be a contronym.) But I agree with Rex on "rearmost." That makes no sense as some of the seats in the "Gods" section of concert halls or opera houses are actually closer to the stage than others in the tiers below. Depends on the design of the auditorium, I supp'hose.

This felt like a Monday puzzle to me, which is sort of the trend, since Fridays lately have felt like Wednesdays.

My mother's parmesan was always BURNT rather than CRUSTED. I didn't mind.

welcome back, Rex!

Old Lady 7:35 AM  

Enjoyed this in part because it didn't feature actors from Game of Thrones, rap stars, or texting contractions. Also nice to be reminded of the oddness of contronyms - single-word relatatives of oxymorons.

Cassieopia 7:36 AM  

Loved it and loved learning a new word: contranym. I thought this was clever and fun and I had a great time solving it. Had melTED before CRUSTED but I liked the reference to how Parmesan cheese behaves when baked. My only "uh, maybe..." moment came with CONTINUE. I couldn't figure out how it means "postpone" without other modifiers such as "to be continued" or ""we'll continue this later".

Fabulous and CRUSTy for a Wednesday.

Birchbark 7:55 AM  

"Fiery pit! Fiery pit! ye insult me, man; past all natural bearing, ye insult me. It's an all-fired outrage to tell any human creature that he's bound to hell. Flukes and flames! Bildad, say that again to me, and start my soul-bolts, but I'll--I'll--yes, I'll swallow a live goat with all his hairs and horns on. Out of the cabin, ye canting, drab-colored son of a wooden gun--a straight wake with ye!" (Pequod co-owner PELEG, chatting with Pequod co-owner Bildad, in chapter 16 of Moby Dick).

And of course, Bildad's famous reply: "Okay, so I said you get your contronyms from a list. Sheesh, why don't you SUE ME."

Oscar 8:00 AM  

Glad @kitshef isn't a constructor, since he/she'd take out all the interesting/colorful answers.

H8 H8ers gonna H8 H8.

chefbea 8:01 AM  

Will read the comments later...Loved the puzzle!!! Love Paremesan encrusted chicken with pasta and a glass of wine. Nose bleed seats are up high (I'm sure that has been mentioned. Did not know Peleg.

Puzzle Master 8:02 AM  

Profile of Will Shortz in: today's NYT.

L 8:03 AM  

I had LAUNCHED for UNVEILED and PHEW for WHEW, and both really tripped me up. DNF.

REARMOST as clued is plain wrong.

C- for this puzzle.

Aketi 8:04 AM  

My experience with CRUSTED cheese was of the Mac N Cheese variety for a Model UN event at my son's high school. They had over 500 attendees. Parents had to fill a giant pan with food for hungry teens. I was naive enough to think Mac N Cheese was be easy and cheep. I'm not a cook and prefer take out and heat and eat options. By the time I priced out all the ingredients I realized that the heat and eat option was cheaper. Even putting the contents of all the containers into the giant pan to heat was time consuming, The results, however, were far better than I could have ever achieved on my own, since it came with a parmaisian bread crumb crust that added a satisfying crunchy texture to the usual gluey gooey variety. It was almost worth the effort. So glad high school is done and I don't have to be VOLUNTOLD anymore.

Anonymous 8:09 AM  

Like many have said, "contronyms" are well-known. The fact that lists of them exist doesn't mean they must all be cited, any more than Webster's, the OED, or your favorite thesaurus need to be cited because your crossword answers are also listed there.
Do you feel Paula Abdul should have cited a source for the phrase "Opposites Attract"? She didn't come up with that.

Anonymous 8:16 AM  

I enjoyed this one. ALAS, Rex is MAD per usual. I get it about the crediting OVERSIGHT oh well MAY I GO now?

Wm. C. 8:16 AM  

By definition, "nosebleed seats" refer to the uppermost seats, which may (or may not) also be the rearmost.

The term stems from the phenomenon that reducing barometric pressure (as, for example, with altitude) can cause nose bleeding.

Richard Gross 8:27 AM  

The puzzle was great fun! Although you and all the aesthetes insufferably put down the coincidental emergence of a contronym theme, it was new to me. I hadn't heard of the word before. Nor had Rex, apparently the return from your vacation hasn't allowed you the opportunity to completely wash the sand from your balls.

Two Ponies 8:28 AM  

I'm okay with any puzzle that showcases our wonderful colorful language. And now I know what those words are called.

Damn, I was hoping for @ED's chicken recipe.

I'm still laughing about @Lewis and his "Well I'll Be!"

Nancy 8:37 AM  

Contronyms are one of the most interesting aspects of the English language (do other languages have anything like this in them?) and I found the puzzle great fun. I would have liked it even better if the non-theme clues had been made a little harder, but I found that I needed to have some letters filled in in order to figure out the theme answers. All of them. Nary a one popped into my head simply from reading the clue. So that provided enough crunch for a Wednesday. I am happy to see the answer WHEW today: PHEW last week was wrong. My only writeover was CRUShED before CRUSTED, but I really didn't like CRUSTED much either. This has been a really good week for the early-week puzzles. Hope it continues for the harder ones to follow.

Sir Hillary 8:52 AM  

I enjoyed this one, and have no issue with the lack of any citations for the themers. Good gravy, if anything is in the public domain, it's a figure of speech like a contronym. I think we all know that @Rex's reviews are often tainted by his views of the constructor, so I don't pay today's too much mind.

Anyway, this was a fun solve. I liked the "chattiness" -- WEGOOD, IMIGHT, SUEME, MAYIGO, SUREDO. Only complaints are ERENOW (ugh) and the clue for REARMOST. "Nosebleed" implies vertical height, or uppermost.

Sir Hillary 8:54 AM  

And yes, I see that "vertical height" is a...redundonym?

The Hermit Philosopher 8:59 AM  

Contronyms are also known as "Janus words."

ArtO 9:07 AM  

Who cares if Bruce got the contronyms (a new word for me) from a list or not. They are out there and it's what you do with them that count. Must say the NW stumped me with CONTINUE which I don't think of as a contronym.

I love them in general and have fun with my French born grandchildren who, while bi-linual, are certainly a bit flummoxed by the English languages contronyms and homonyms.

Tom4 9:08 AM  

Do we have proof this was taken from the Mental Floss list? Seems arbitrary. The internet is full of lists. Just search "lists of lists" and see.

If not, ofl needs to chiiiiiiill. WE COOL.

RooMonster 9:13 AM  

Hey All !
Nice theme. Hung up with GPS for NAV and not letting it go. Had to cheat for CRUSTED, as CRUST apparently on the ole brain. :-) Finally saw REARMOST (while technically correct ad clued, should've been, "Aft, as on a ship" or some such.


Kevin 9:29 AM  

So true. Rex seems to get a bee in his bonnet if he has ever heard of the same thing himself and leaps to the idea that someone must have stolen the idea. He made the same (false) claim a few weeks ago when the puzzle involved rules about writing that were violations of the very thing been said.

Two Ponies 9:37 AM  

The Oreo versus Hydrox thing sent me scurrying to find out who preceded who in this earth-shattering topic.
I was surprised to find that Oreo was the cookie plagiarist.
Hah! Oreo, you're busted. Book 'em Danno.

G. Weissman 9:46 AM  


Z 9:53 AM  

Not often, nigh close to never, do I disagree with @Muse and @Lewis on the same day.

@Muse - I don't see how Feels a little bit like passing someone else's cleverness off as your own is being easier on Ginsberg than But you get No credit for simply finding a list and then cherry-picking the list for words that fit symmetrically in a grid.... I'm not sure I agree with Rex, but he is consistent in stating "I can't endorse this cut-and-paste approach to crossword themes." We both know where Rex ranks these two constructors, but his response was consistent.

@Lewis - "The bottom line" is not just how good the solve was for me. The USA Today fiasco proves that. Do I think today's puzzle is "plagiarism?," though? No, Haight didn't take this from another puzzle (and I feel it worth pointing out to others that Rex never used that term, either). I doubt that Haight even thought of this as an issue, anymore than I would normally mention that I looked up "nigh" in a dictionary to make sure it wasn't spelled n-e-i-g-h. Constructor's use various tools to make puzzles, they don't cite each tool every time. Yet, it would have been better if Haight mentioned where he found his examples. "I thought contronym's would make a great theme, so went looking for examples." Especially with theme ideas I think it behooves constructors to be careful to avoid even the appearance of plagiarism.

As for the puzzle itself, I like contronyms so thought the theme was cool. It's probably a result of my solving path, but the dreck fill went unnoticed, but REARMOST gets the side-eye. I am loath to ever call a clue/answer pair "wrong" but I can't think of any way "nosebleed seat" leads to REARMOST. I guess some nosebleed seats are REARMOST, but Rex and @Wm C. are correct - the essence of "nosebleed seat" is altitude. Can anyone find a usage that justifies this clue?

GHarris 10:16 AM  

Went down the same hole as @trudy. Stayed with we good and dnf. Agree with all those who reject rearmost. Clearly the clue references altitude, that's what causes a nosebleed. Disagree with rex on crusted,it's the cheese not the chicken that gets crunchy from the baking.

Rita Flynn 10:17 AM  

I had fun with the theme. So what if it's from another source? But I agree, the fill was awful, and badly clued.

Nancy 10:19 AM  

I don't ever read Rex's rants. I only find out about them in the comments section, as I did today. And find out...and find out...and find out...and find out. And I have -- appropriately enough for today's theme -- two completely opposite reactions to the responses today of our wonderful commentariat. 1) I agree wholeheartedly with the fairly unanimous conclusion that Rex's plagiarism complaint is beyond ridiculous. And 2) Why does the commentariat keep taking the bait? If Rex's rants were routinely ignored -- never mentioned at all by anyone -- maybe he'd stop ranting entirely. It's just a thought.

I'm also amused by the people who can remember which constructors Rex loves and which ones he hates. I can barely remember what I had for dinner last night. But Bruce, if he hates you like everyone says he does, take comfort in the fact that I like you. At least I did today. My fuzzy brain can't really remember whether I've liked you in the past or not, but let's both assume that I really, really did.

Joseph Michael 10:29 AM  

Most of the words in Rex's review of this puzzle appear in Webster's Dictionary. Is it plagarism that he failed to attrubute the source? I really don't care, so SUE ME.

Thought this was an entertaining puzzle. The term "contronym" is new to me and I enjoyed untangling seven examples of it. It's wonderful how the English language can make sense and not make sense at the same time.

ALAS, however, I have to agree with the criticism about the clue for REARMOST. There are many theatres where I would rather sit in the back of the orchestra section than in the front of the upper upper balcony where the threat of nosebleeds (not to mention eyestrain) might loom.

Overall a nice job, Bruce. Don't let the Rexter get you down.

Anonymous 10:41 AM  

Rex seems as obsessed with the NYT puzzle and its editorship as our president is with Hillary Clinton and her popular vote win. And, like Trump, he seems to live in an alternate universe, at least when it comes to crosswords, and, instead of being a role model for reasoned discussion of issues, simply vents and spews hatred in what seems like a personal vendetta. Yes, there's an entertainment value to it ("What will he say next?"), and yes, this blog provides a good place for solvers and constructors to convene and discuss puzzles, but because of Rex's extreme anti-NYT bias, its overall effect on the community is negative. Rex, like our president, should hand over the reins to someone who can provide more stable, reasoned, and impartial leadership.

jb129 10:49 AM  

I liked it & thought it was easy despite getting stuck on "KOI"

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

No Rex, this one was fun. Is it possible to be a bit less negative? It's not funny anymore.

jberg 11:12 AM  

First lf all, the clue says "like nosebleed seats, USUALLY" (my caps) -- not 'essentially,' not 'always,' but usually. Seemed fine to me.

As did the contronyms (why that second o isn't an a I don't know). Get 'em where you can, the point is to make a puzzle around them.

I had "I May go" before I MIGHT -- can't decide if it's brilliant or inappropriate to pair it with MAY I GO? further down.

But, yeah, the fill -- AGARS? "Hey, let's throw a few more agars in this batch of rum-raisin, it seems a little thin." No.

@LisaG, yes, you're blue. And noticing that your interests are dogs and reading, I have to wonder if you know Groucho Marx's joke about that?

Anonymous 11:12 AM  

And yes, parmesan cheese does get crusted when it bakes on something--whether it's on chicken, eggplant, or lasagna.

Masked and Anonymous 11:17 AM  

This WedPuz was BAD! And REARMOST is BAD-ASS, too. And 8 U's KICKS BUTT, too boot.

staff weeject pick, by a nose: OEN. Hard to ignore NAV and INI, tho.

fave fillins: WECOOL. SUREDO. AMBIENCE. SUEDE + SUEME. LASHLINE (debut desperation meat). YANG.

M&A is also callin Mr. Haight out, for plagiarism: Cuz, many of these words are to be easily found in the Official M&A Help Desk Dictionary. Any yahoo can just go and cherry-pick re-use em! Hot Tip: U know yer word is original, if the only way to clue it up is with a double-?? clue. M&A runtpuz example: SFS.*

Thanx, Mr. Haight. Real fun solve. Luuuuuuuuv-ed it. Haightful thUmbsUp.

Masked & Anonym8Us

* {Odd parts of sofas??} = SFS.


relicofthe60s 11:24 AM  

I thought this was a nifty puzzle, if a bit on the easy side. Why does it matter if the constructor got the words from some list? If he even did. As usual, Rex assumes that everyone reads and knows the same things he does. And I wonder how Rex feels about Shakespeare? I mean, the guy stole the plots of half his plays from historians.

Mohair Sam 11:25 AM  

Isn't contronym the kind of word you need your spell check for? What is this? Get that red line outta here! Jesus.

So I google "List of Contronyms" and get 80,100 hits. Just sayin'.

Neat, fun puzzle. One of those wish-I'd-thought-of-that ideas. Isn't SANCTION the one contronym that really screws you up? If the Phillies' Aaron NOLA continues on his current run we may eventually have a new clue for 12D, 'twould be nice on two levels. I see RESIGN (to sign again) without the hyphen all the time in the sports pages - and it does confuse me.

Speaking of 6D, I made each of my sons sit through the Gregory Peck version of "Moby Dick" when they were in their early teens:

Wild-eyed Peck as Ahab to Starbuck: ". . . . The white whale tasks me; he heaps me. Yet he is but a mask. 'Tis the thing behind the mask I chiefly hate; the malignant thing that has plagued mankind since time began . . . . . . . ."

Substitute Bruce Haight for white whale and Rex for Ahab if you like.

old timer 11:31 AM  

I finished the puzzle, and had found it quite amusing. Then I saw that Bruce Haight was the constructor, and asked myself, "What horrible things will OFL find to say about this one?" @Rex always hates Haight.

There are nosebleed seats in London and Broadway theaters, so it is true that in that context REARMOST could be wrong, since second balcony seats are no further to the rear than the ones at the back of the orchestra. But if you look at a typical stadium or ballpark, the nosebleed seats look also to be the REARMOST, for you can't go almost straight back from the dugout, you must also climb. So in that context the clue is OK.

As for getting the themers from a list, I seriously doubt it came from one published only a few weeks ago. There is a pretty long lag time between submission and publication, especially if the constructor was told to redo it. s

GILL I. 11:33 AM  

I loved this puzzle. I knew I would at 1 and 2A. Add contronyms to my other list of favorite anagrams, aphorisms, mnemonics and a new favorite autantonyms.
I was so sure this would get high marks for something fun, but my bubble burst when I read @Rex. I think I'll take up @Nancy's advice.
@Z..I don't share your view on why any constructor need bother to cite their source of theme answers or where they went looking for examples...Why? These words that Bruce used are well known contronyms; he used them in a clever way. And yes, @Nancy, other languages have them as well. SANCTION used today is "sancionar" in Spanish. Another one I can think of is "ignorar" as in ignorance....Feel free to fill in the blank.
I so well remember the nosebleed sections during my crackers and peanut butter days. The first musical I attended when I came to NYC was "Hair." I sat up in the REARMOST section with my brother and his brilliant musical friends smoking dope for the first time and wondering where I had been most of my life.
I gave up on those seats when I'd go to the SFO Symphony at the War Memorial Opera House with my best friend. Ozawa was the new man in town and we'd do the SRO route until after first intermission. We'd eye the front row empty seats and the minute curtain went down, we'd fly to the front, knocking down the rich patrons on their way to the bathroom. Smug and proud of it.
@newspaperguy 12:48 - thanks for the morning giggle. @chefwen...yup...taco sauce.

Blue Stater 11:43 AM  

I agree with Rex. Really bad. The NE, in particular (KOI, WECOOL). We deserve better.

Nancy 11:48 AM  

@aketi (8:04) -- Your anecdote about how you filled and heated up the "giant pan" is hilarious. I would have used the same cheatsy method you used, and then would have complained about it equally vociferously.

@jberg (11:12) -- I'd forgotten that Groucho witticism, and went just now to look it up. Funny! Isn't Groucho the absolute best?!

@Joseph Michael (10:29) -- Sitting in theater balconies -- or even very expensive mezzanine sections -- has become an ordeal and a nightmare in today's ultra-greedy Broadway climate. There is absolutely NO legroom. Travelling coach on an airline is roomy by comparison. -- and I'm not being in the least facetious. Just about every theater in NYC has been reconfigured over the last few decades, with extra rows jammed in that were never there before. When you're in the orchestra -- also exceedingly more cramped than at any time in living memory -- you can at least slide your feet under the chair in front. Balcony seats have no such option. I have been in seats where you can't move your feet a sixteenth of an inch in any direction. As for your legs: fuhgeddaboudit. I have gotten to the point where I absolutely will not sit upstairs -- even in the first row of the mezzanine. I am fast approaching the point where I may skip theater entirely. For those of you too young to remember: theatergoing used to be a comfortable, gracious, civilized experience. Again, just like air travel once was.

I may be stupid but I'm persistent 11:50 AM  

From yesterday, how was Descartes "Well I'll be" such genius? The only Descartes' famous, that I know of, for saying is "I think, therefore I am" which I don't see this as translating to "I'll be". I haven't found any other saying of Descartes which merits inclusion.

A shocked Hamlet saying "Well, I'll be" would have worked.

Two Ponies 11:53 AM  

C'mon all of you Rex haters. I have my own personal reason to want to punch him in the nose but he owns the playground and lets us come and play here. So to those who keep bitchin' about his bitchin'
Quit Your bitchin'!

Burma Shave 12:07 PM  

You might find my Syndi-land verse of the day humorous today.
Try the Syndicated Puzzle button and visit.

Unknown 12:39 PM  

LOVED this puzzle, uncovering all the contronyms. Tried to fit "way up high" instead of REARMOST as I agree with nosebleeds signifying altitude. First-time commenter, but longtime lurker. I've learned so much from the blog. Enjoy commenters and Michael who makes me smile even at his crankiest. I do the puzzle for fun. There's a whole lot more to in the world to be cranky about.

Anonymous 12:56 PM  

One of you lemmings help me out here. Do we hate William Shatner now?

Anonymous 1:12 PM  

Nope, just hate passing by ass anons...

I may be stupid, but I'm President 1:14 PM  

Trump, dump the grump.

Masked and Anonymous 1:16 PM  

@Two Ponies: har. But ... after you're done punchin him in the nose, can't we at least kick him in the playground, while U got him knocked down?
You may be leavin yerself open just a smidge for the inevitable "quit yer bitchin about our bitchin about his bitchin" bitchin, btw ...

Actually, M&A finds @RP's bitchin a WEe COOL, generally speakin. It's just that sometimes, like today, I can get to feelin a WEe sorry for the constructioneer. Last time @RP wrote about one of my hard-fight-for-the-right-to-publish NYTPuzs, he peeled off at least two layers of its theme-skin and then gave its fillins a few hundred lashes. Mighta even kicked it in the playgrounds. Some constructioneer discomfort can ensue.
But, hey -- most other bloggers liked it fine, and U still get to keep yer $300 moneybucks.

Was startled to hear that @RP finds them constructioneer xwordinfo comments "self-serving". I enjoy readin most of em, while self-servin myself up an extra cinnamon roll. U get to hear a little rare dab about the humanity-side of the author... How he/she had to trudge thru a horrendous snowstorm, to mail off the puz to the Shortzmeister, or somesuch. Or where the neat puztheme ideas or themeless seed entries came from. Or how much the editor cleaned up the fillins/clues, to make em look/smell better in public. Or whose fault the PEWIT entry was. Etc.

I know it's plenty hard for m&e, to write a good author comment. I notice PB1 don't write em much; just lets the work stand on its own. But I feel I'd hardly know him… if he hadn'ta wrote that neat Crosswords For Dummies book. To comment or not to comment … I say: de bustagut.

But, I digress. Still luuuuuuuuvin today's Haightful 8 puz. Thanx again, PBruce3.


Teedmn 1:22 PM  

I managed to *not see* the constructor's name before I started solving. When I finished, I was halfway expecting to see @Loren Muse Smith's name due to the theme so seeing Bruce Haight was a bit of a surprise. As far as @Rex's comments today, considering his Haight rants in the past, today's were mostly mild in comparison.

@Hartley70 and others, I join you in the WE gOOd, except I left LOgI in, even after wanting LOCI there; when you know something, that is when you have closed the door to knowledge (I think this is paraphrasing a quote from one of the Bene Gesserit in Dune, but I couldn't find it in a Wiki list of quotes from the books). I knew WE gOOd was correct....

I also didn't NAV very well in the NE with GPS in at 9D and tech as the manual reader before the USER hung up the phone on the tech help desk and decided to figure it out herself. but those were all fixable.

Thanks, BH, another good puzzle.

And let me urge you all to visit the Syndiland comments towards the bottom and read the @BurmaShave poem. First, reacquaint yourself with the theme of that puzzle. It's very nice.

Anonymous 2:01 PM  

I don't know anyone who wears fur because I am a paragon of virtue. What a tool. Great puzzle by the way thanks Bruce.

LisaG 2:46 PM  

@jberg YES! That is a great quote from Groucho. However my favorite dog quote is, "You can trust a dog with your life, but not with your sandwich".

Anonymous 2:53 PM  

To be fair, there are only so many contonms, most of which you'll find on any list. There's no way to attribute all of the list makers.

Anonymous 2:55 PM  

I just squeezed off a prodigious deuce.

Two Ponies 2:55 PM  

@ M&A, I know but the little tongue-in-cheek was worth the risk.
Glad you caught it.

Joseph Michael 3:42 PM  

@Nancy, I agree, but try smaller black box theatres, such as those off-off Broadway. There's a lot of great work being done and you may find yourself enjoying it in comfort.

Thomaso808 4:54 PM  

@TableorShelve thanks for that Wiki reference. Funny that it defined "nonplussed " as "not disconcerted ". @LMS you need to add "concerted" to your list.

To whom it may concern 5:48 PM  

Most of you should know by now that just as @Nancy does not read @Rex's blog, @Rex does not read the comments section. He will occasionally chime in if someone in his world alerts him to something happening in the comments.

Anonymous 5:51 PM  

Chuck Norris finished this puzzle before it came out.

Anonymous 7:30 PM  

@Anon 2:01,
Please. That's about 21,768 on the list of Rex's catalogues of virtue signaling.
It's so absurd a statement it doesn't even warrant scorn. Move along. There's nothing to see here save @Z sucking Rex's dick (or beaver. Hi, Aketi!)
As if no personal experience with a subject somehow prevented knowledge of it. Except, of course, Mike has a degree in lit written and current several centuries before his birth.
I pray for him to grasp concepts, and events that occurred before his consciousness, but I fear the worst.

Wanderlust 7:57 PM  

I had the same problem. Actually a DNF because I had WEGOOD and LOGI and PEDEG seemed just as plausible as the right answers. Agree with thise who liked the theme and didn't care if someone somewhere has compiled these lists before.

Joe Dipinto 8:04 PM  

Re: Nosebleed seats -- they aren't USUALLY high-up, they are ALWAYS high-up. They ARE usually situated flush with the rear of the entire seating area; hence they are USUALLY rearmost. Learn how English works, Rex.

RooMonster 8:08 PM  

@Anon 5:51,
Awesome! I love those Chuck Norris-isms!


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s[acecraft 10:31 AM  

Well, I know ONE guy who's CRUSTED...This was a COOL solve. Ain't the English langwidge fun?? I never realized there were so many of those "contronyms." The one I'm familiar with--and wanted for 1-across--was SANCTION. Didn't fit there, but thankfully made its way into the puzzle at the bottom.

My NW popped right in; the HOLDUP for me was almost a deal-breaker: assuming that the car speaking option was GPS. I had an awful time till I let go of that. The rest of it was pretty easy; that snag didn't cost an inordinate amount of time, so I'll call it easy-medium.

ALAS, no DOD to AROUSE me. Fill didn't bother me nearly as much as it did Sir Crusty, and I know nothing of the "list" that thse words were allegedly taken from, so I'm not gonna FIGHTWITH that. Birdie.

thefogman 10:31 AM  

Breezed through this one with the one HOLDUP being the NE corner where I had to FIGHTWITH myself before putting down CONTINUE at 7A. I had to TOSSOUT roaSTED in place of CRUSTED at 7D in order to CONTINUE. Maybe it's the WEATHER, but I have RESIGNED myself to SANCTION OFL's critique today - with one caveat. REARMOST is a perfectly acceptable answer to 16A because the nosebleed seats are in fact almost always set back in the upper tiers (levels) of a stadium/arena/theater. That OVERSIGHT may be because OFL rarely sits in the cheap seats like us common folk.

Burma Shave 11:32 AM  


IMIGHT say that WECOOL folks
CONTINUE to HOLDUP together,
RESIGNed, yet GAMER than most,


rondo 12:23 PM  

Hand up for HOLDUPs with writeovers WEgOOd and GPS for NAV. ERRORs fixed. All nosebleed seats ARE REARMOST seats (and uppermost), while not all REARMOST seats ARE nosebleed seats (just in the back). Clue as written seems OK to me. Maybe coulda gone with “like cheap seats, usually”.

I sat at the same table with Chuck NORRIS once at Kingston Mines blues club in Chicago. Very nice fella in person and wouldn’t want to FIGHTWITH (against) him.

In the Cyrillic alphabet MIP is what we pronounce MIR. Peace.

ALAS, no yeah baby to be UNVEILED, but a KOI one in a MINI might have me AGOG. Yes, MAAM.

I SUREDO like this puz better than OFL. Sometimes ya gotta LAUGH.

rondo 12:26 PM  

BTW - thinking good thoughts for Mr. W. and D,LIW.

thefogman 12:59 PM  

Upon further reflection, there is a DOD.

Her name is HAWKwoman aka HAWKgirl...

fakt chekker 2:27 PM  

Jack Cover, a NASA researcher, began developing the Taser in 1969.[14] By 1974, Cover had completed the device, which he named after his childhood hero Tom Swift (book "Thomas [A] Swift's Electric Rifle"), . . . The backformed verb "to tase" is used sometimes.

leftcoastTAM 2:46 PM  

Have to agree with most of Rex's critique, with one reservation:

His critique is mainly of the constructor, not the theme, because he used a ready-made list without acknowledgement. The theme itself is very good and a reminder that English ain't simple.

The REARMOST seats problem bothered me as it did Rex, but have to grant that in most bowl-shaped arenas, the nose bleed seats are both highest up as well as most to the rear.

Blanked out on the well-known Chuck NORRIS for a bit, while the not so well known LOOFA was last to fill in.

Enjoyed this one.

Teedmn 3:02 PM  

Me too on the crossing of the fingers for the Mr. W surgery success.

thefogman 3:04 PM  

I am also sending positive vibes to Mr. W for a successful surgery and and a speedy recovery.

Anonymous 3:41 PM  

Never saw a list, found the puzzle challenging fun. NE a little sticky, but an enjoyable puzzle.

rain forest 3:43 PM  

First of all: @Lady Di - hoping all is well with Mr. W
Second: @Burma Shave - excellent and timely. I hope some realtimers read it.

When I saw Mr. Haight's name as constructor, I knew there would be a firestorm, so I wisely skipped the Rexpost. "Well played", I heard someone say, although I certainly got the gist of what he wrote from the commentariat.

COOL puzzle. I like all the weird things about the English language. These examples have been around for a long time, and I see no need for a citation (another such word) from Bruce.

Diana,LIW 3:43 PM  

The perfect puzzle to bide what little free time we had in pre-op this morning. Mr. W kept asking each new person who came in the room (I lost count) for his breakfast burrito. He had everyone laughing, as is his wont.

We live close by, so I came home and they are calling me to update and tell me when to begin lurking outside the recovery room.

I agree with @Rex that a constructor should cite sources - doesn't negate the puzzle, just sayin'.

I used to volunteer as an usher at a tiny local theater. We would laughingly refer to the last row, Row F, as the nosebleed section.

Diana, Waiting Patiently (sic)

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