Religious recluse / TUE 11-21-17 / Hook's henchman / Wife in Oaxaca / Rare grandfather clock numeral

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Constructor: Brian Thomas

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: some kind of car race in eastern Europe? — theme clues are fill-in-the-blank quotes from an imagined car race commentator (?); the answers are all puns on ... ugh, looks like both adjectives related to countries in (roughly) eastern Europe and nouns describing inhabitants of those countries...

Theme answers:
  • 19A: "The race has just begun, and it looks like the car from Warsaw will POLE INTO FIRST!" (this pun made Super-awkward by the fact that "pole" is, in fact, a racing term—and one related specifically to the *start* of a race (i.e. pole position))
  • 30A: "Listen! You can hear the thundering roar as the car from Moscow goes RUSSIAN PAST!" (oh yeah, race commentators say stuff like this *all* the time ...)
  • 39A: "We're getting close to the end as the car from Helsinki leads the way to the FINNISH LINE!"
  • 52: "Wow! The car from Prague ekes out the victory by a nose and takes the CZECHERED FLAG!") 
Word of the Day: EREMITE (22A: Religious recluse) —
noun: eremite; plural noun: eremites
  1. a Christian hermit or recluse. (google)
• • •

This is brutal. This is a cry for help. This is a regression to times of yore when weak-ass awkward cornball pun puzzles were all the rage. LETT MY PEOPLE GO! The theme is an outright disaster. Why am I listening to a race announcer? Why is this race in eastern Europe? Why are the puns so bad? Why aren't the punning words *&$^%ing consistent in terms of being the same parts of speech?! A POLE is an inhabitant of Poland. The adjective is "Polish." A "Finn" is an inhabitant of Finland. The adjective is "FINNISH"? Your puns are all inhabitants or all adjectives—they are not *&$^ing mix-and-match. I can't believe I'm actually trying to fix this dismal excuse for a theme, but lord in heaven if you're going to commit atrocities, at least show some respect for your craft.

Then of course there was the fill, which just took this from a Tuezday (your typical trainwreck of a Tuesday theme) to a Sooper Tuezday. Once I hit EREMITE crossing IIII (!!!!), I knew I was in for whatever the opposite of "a treat" is. MONTE on its own is dumb (5D: Hustler's game). A [Wound on a dueler] is a SCAR or SCAB—STAB is an action, or should be, esp. on a Tuesday. I think of a single person as a RASTAFARI*AN*, not a RASTAFARI (which is the movement / religion itself) (10D: Person with dreads). Actually, looking over the fill now, it's not so much terrible as it is choked with overfamiliar stuff (SMEE, AVAST, SLOMO, ADIN, OMEN, ESAY, IMAC, etc). But seriously, this puzzle should've been rejected. It doesn't feel sound enough to fly in one of the lesser dailies, let alone the daily with the self-described "Best Puzzle in the World." Why not reject with advice on improvement? Why not wait til the puzzle comes back to you in acceptable shape? Sigh. FLIPFLOP (37D: Switch positions) and SCRUNCHIE (32D: Ponytail holder) are fine answers and don't deserve to be associated with this mess. Good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:08 AM  

@rex -- But did you like the puzzle?

I liked VITALS, SCRUNCHIE, FLIPFLOP, and LIKEN and the mini-theme of double E's (7). I loved EREMITE -- totally unknown but fairly crossed, and there should be one of these on a Tuesday. Brian, on this, your debut, ignore Rex's bile; it is a given, and if your humor and his do not match, it will be vile.

I believe the last time a similar theme played in the NYT was almost 30 years ago (9/21/89, according to Deb Amlen and it included Rex's LETT), which is plenty long to deserve a redux (one better done, IMO) for those -- and I know they're out there -- who enjoy a theme like this so much that they don't care that the punning words are not the same part of speech.

BarbieBarbie 6:28 AM  

@Rex: Haile Selassie’s given name was Tafari, making him Ras Tafari, making RASTAFARI a person, for whom the movement was named. Don’t be so pugnacious about what you don’t actually know.
This one played Medium for me. The puns were cute and most of the puzzle was easy, but I had a little mess in the North which took awhile to spot. I had started out with DIM for tarnish, and, well...

SteveCFL 6:29 AM  

If it is such a "good day".....why are you so angry? It's a puzzle!

evil doug 6:29 AM  

JERRY: Pam? What *about* Pam?

KRAMER: I love her, Jerry!

JERRY: You what?

KRAMER: I love her!

JERRY: Is that right?

KRAMER: Oh, she's uh...she's real. She can bring home the bacon and fry it in the pan.

JERRY: What does that mean?

KRAMER: Oh, and that voice!

JERRY: What about her name?

KRAMER: Pam? Oh, it's a beautiful name. Pam. Pam. Pam!

JERRY: She's got really nice hair.

KRAMER: Oh, it's incredible. Although, I might replace her tortoise clip with one of those velvet scrunchies. I love those.

JERRY: You've got really specific tastes.

BigMistake 6:30 AM  

I'll admit it - I enjoyed it. Found the theme fun. Good Tuesday puzzle. Thought the fill was fine, particularly scrunchie and flip flop...

Only wish we could have seen Pole Position

evil doug 6:36 AM  

When I see NONO, STAB and lack of BONE MASS, the only Lorena I think of is Bobbitt....

Andy S. 6:39 AM  

Can't believe this passed the censors at the NYT. 14A atop 17A. Outrage! I'm cancelling my subscription.

Loren Muse Smith 6:44 AM  

Rex – you beat me to the punch with your play on the whole car race angle.

I agree that SCRUNCHIE and FLIP FLOP are nice. I also appreciate RUNGS right next to UP ONE.

I like that Brian tightened the theme up to include only Europeans. I’m not that great at puns, so I always admire people who can play around with words this way. If you venture out of Europe, you could have, “Man, that car from Tel Aviv ISRAELI FAST but that’s not an in-the-language phrase like the four Brian has are. In fact, it stinks all around. There’s THAI ROD. Stinks, too.

Actually, if you dig into the theme idea a bit, it’s really hard to come up with anything else that would work.

Gotta get busy on preparations for all the festivities. Happy Thanksgiving to you all, some of my favorite people on the planet.

Good job, Brian. Congrats on your debut.

FrankStein 6:44 AM  

I give this one a IIII. It made me want to POLE out my eyes. Rex is rightly in a STATE. He should have ripped it a GNU hole.

evil doug 6:47 AM  

The CHINESE really bright on that KOR, EAN it?

Ben 6:49 AM  

Clue for SLEEPY is great, as is the rest of this puzzle. It also helps that the NASCAR season just finished this weekend (not that I watch), so the puzzle is timely as well. Truly enjoyed it and am happy to forgive IIII with fun clues all around.

Two Ponies 6:54 AM  

I knew that whatever today's puzzle would be have a tough time following yesterday's excellent offering. Little did I know how awful it actually could be.

The clue for ammo is terrible. A cartridge IS ammo, not the contents.

IIII, yes rare, as in non-existent.

Thank you @ evil doug for salvaging us from total despair. Lorena!

@ Andy S. Good catch. Now, get your mind out of the gutter :)

TonySaratoga 6:56 AM  

Nicely done.

Anonymous 6:56 AM  

Cutting and pasting is so much fun! (If you're a toddler.)

TonySaratoga 6:57 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
TonySaratoga 6:58 AM  

Looking at an old clock with a IIII instead of a IV right now as I solve. They exist.


The word Rastafari actually comes from the title of Emperor Haile Selassie, who was known as Ras Tafari (in Amharic, Ras Täfäri) from 1916 to 1930, until his ascension to Emperor. The moniker comes from ras, the title of a high-ranking Ethiopian leader, and Tafari, Selassie’s birth name, which literally means ‘person who is feared’.

Greetings in the name of his imperial majesty
Emperor I'n'I Selassie I
Jah rastafari
Who live'th and rain'eth with I'n'I
Ever faithful
Ever sure
They say
Experience teach at wisdom
But there's a natural mystic blow through the air
..Bob Marley

Hungry Mother 7:00 AM  

Quick and easy for me today. I admit I liked the theme and found it fun.

Kimb 7:03 AM  

I've been reading these comments for a while, but never felt compelled to add my own until now.

@Two Ponies 6:54 AM - I have two old clocks in the room with me here that both have IIII instead of IV. Which I coincidentally learned about three days ago when The Husband and I were discussing Roman numerals...

Anonymous 7:14 AM  

It's bone density, not BONE MASS.

Exubesq 7:18 AM  

I was waiting for “Yugo first” to make an appearance.

kitshef 7:19 AM  

Yeah, POLE INTO FIRST does not work for me, but in my case it’s because POLE does not sound at all like ‘pull’.

I like the symmetrical hair pair RASTAFARI/SCHRUNCHIE, and the tennis pair of LOVE/AD IN.

Anonymous 7:24 AM  

Why so tetchy ? I thought it was cute.

Anonymous 7:34 AM  

Yes, Rex is in his usual tetchy mood. I thought the puzzle was great and the puns funny. This was an enjoyable Tuesday. I didn't like IIII too much, but the rest was fine. Of course, that answer proves the point that many think if they have never seen something in their universe, that it certainly doesn't exist.

puzzlehoarder 7:37 AM  

This took about a minute longer than yesterday. There were some write overs at the outset combined with that slightly confusing first theme entry.

I couldn't tell if it was a play on Pole or Poland. South of that all was Monday smooth.

Anonymous 7:45 AM  

I agree with Rex. I like puns. But these are inconsistent. The puzzle lacks symmetry and "rhythm". Not hard to do; easy actually. But, not fun. Not elegant. Not worth the time (however little) and trouble ( you some idea of how little I think of the puzzle).

On to tomorrow, I guess.

Two Ponies 7:46 AM  

I guess I was doing a "Rex" when I said IIII did not exist.
"I have never seen it therefore it does not exist."
Wow, that is so easy!
Somebody call me a doctor. The attitude must be contagious.

Ctrl C / Ctrl V 7:49 AM  

Cutting and pasting is quite appropriate if it relates to the puzzle.

Why not Ctrl P ?

The C key is comfortably positioned relative to the Ctrl key; that's why it's been chosen for the Copy shortcut. The P key, on the other hand, is too far away from the Ctrl key. V is closer and easier.

Lewis 7:53 AM  

@anon 7:45 -- Where does the puzzle lack symmetry?

Sorry all, but...
OMAN, KENYA believe it? IRAN through this like a GUYANA mission!

Z 7:59 AM  

@Andy S - Not to mention 19A. This is more XXX than IIII.

Z 8:07 AM  

@CTRL Freak - I think CTRL p made sense for the Print command and CTRL v benefits from looking like an upside down version of the editorial direction to insert. Although, who really knows for sure, I doubt if the original programmers of these things could faithfully reconstruct their logic today.

GHarris 8:09 AM  

What the **** is nice about scrunchie (even autocorrect doesn’t like it) and when crossed with upcs I’m done for.

Outside The Box 8:18 AM  

Agree. Liked “scrunchie”

Anonymous 8:21 AM  

The adjectival puns and verb puns ... asymmetric

Anon 8:32 AM  

i enjoyed it. problem were BONELOSS befor BONEMASS, and didnt know EREMITE, and but should have gotten MONTE sooner to fill it in.

pmdm 8:38 AM  

Z: From what I;ve read, this is the logic. Programmers wanted an easy sequence the users involving the UNDO, CUT, COPY, and PASTE commands. They also wanted them close to the modifier keys to allow for easy typing. So they choose the first four letters in the bottom left row of the keyboard for those functions. If the letters on the keyboard were laid out differently, the same four keys would have been used. There is no relationship between the letters and the editing functions. Yet it is incredibly easy to remember the combinations with your fingers.

By the way, MS-DOS used the control modifier key. The original Apple keyboards lacked the control modifier key (if I remember correctly) and used the command modifier key. While Apple keyboards now include a control modifier key, the command modifier key is still used for these editing functions.

There's nothing like a punny puzzle to induce hateful reactions.I though it was kind of cute. For a debut puzzle, I give it a thumbs up despite some issues.

Anonymous 8:43 AM  

Oh good. Today we get to play "Spot the Innuendo".

Unknown 8:47 AM  

My last box to complete the puzzle was to correct the spelling of 5 Down from Monty to Monte. That's only interesting if you look at the spelling of my first name.

Andy S. 8:55 AM  

If the sexual innuendos aren't for you, there's the political innuendos when you rearrange the theme answers. Even with a CZECHEREDPAST you can still FINNISHFIRST and put the RUSSIANFLAG on the White House Lawn.

Anonypuss 8:56 AM  

Fun puzzle. I have no problem with the alleged lack of symmetry. My mind remains flexible, and I remain appreciative of the effort and creativity of my fellow humans.

If not for the clever comments, I would not come back.

pabloinnh 9:01 AM  

And faithful as Keats' eremite...

I knew there was a reason for knowing Frost's "Choose Something Like A Star".

On the other hand, all these puns were overused in grade school.

Hartley70 9:03 AM  

I've never considered the location of Timbuktu, (why is that, I wonder?) and was delighted with that bit of trivia. EREMITE is also new to me and will come in handy when I pop in to visit a Christian hermit. ADIN the theme and this puzzle had just the perfect amount of ZANY to start my day off with a smile.

I've never been comfortable with a YUK. It sounds exactly like a YUCK with the opposite meaning.

Thank you to the Bob Marley fans who provided the RAS TAFARI background information. I plan to weasel it into the conversation on Thanksgiving to sound hip. Maybe I'll drag out that old CD my son abandoned here after college.

The idea of an Eastern European car race theme, as so categorized by Rex, just tickles me so much more than the average Tuesday. Vroom, Vroom! Great debut by Brian Thomas.

mathgent 9:10 AM  

@Lewis is the Will Rogers of puzzles.

POLE, RUSSIAN, FINN, CZECH are all nouns. Where's the inconsistency?

Seinfeld reruns are hard to find around here. Thanks @evil doug. I just got the joke after all these years. Kramer is so smitten that he believes that Pam is a beautiful name.

Bad puzzle, good posts.

QuasiMojo 9:17 AM  

I love puns as much as the next guy. But these are awful puns and beneath the level of quality one would expect from the NYT. Will Shortz seems to be specializing in groaners lately. Sophomoric, lazy, contrived, forced and embarrassing.

Wm. C. 9:20 AM  

Hey, @Rex --

Doncha think that Czechoslovakia is in CENTRAL Europe, not EASTERN Europe? And Finland (though arguably in Eastern Europe) would be more appropriately cited as being in NORTHERN Europe?

Yeah, you're right about some of the flaws, but pretty much every puzzle arguably has some. The puz was OK by me.

Anonymous 9:27 AM  

Why does Michael Sharp think the Czech republic is in eastern Europe?

Anonymous 9:32 AM  

Uh! I'm sorry Wm C. I just scrolled through the comments.
Finnland is funky. In many ways, it's own world. But you're right, certainly more North than East.


Chance 9:36 AM  

I agree with Rex, though I'm far less apoplectic about it, that this was a theme in search of a reason to be. I thought Pole was a bad answer because it's supposed to sound like pull, while the other puns are exact homophones. But I share his objection that the puns should be consistent in part of speech.

As always, click my name to see my blog and my own, perhaps less thorough, but also less enraged, take. Good day.

Nancy 9:36 AM  

Let's see: We have SCRUNCHIE, HAZY, RASPY, ZANY, SLEEPY and SLOMO. Where's Snow White?

ZANY does not equal BONKERS. The Marx Brothers are ZANY. The just-deceased (and it couldn't happen to a nicer guy) Charles Manson was BONKERS.

The POLE INTO FIRST "pun" doesn't match the other puns.

An easy puzzle with a ho-hum theme I feel I've seen before. It didn't do much for me.

RooMonster 9:43 AM  

Hey All !
Geez, I feel guilty now for actually LIKEN and enjoying this puz! Thought the puns were pretty neat. ZANY, one might say.

Read an article once why IIII instead of IV is on a clock. Doesn't apply to watched, though.
Story goes, when making the numerals for a clock, as in the actual wood or metal pieces placed atop a round piece of material, (re:older clocks) you casted four XII's, and four VIII's. So when you put them on a clock, you take a I from XII, and you have the 11 & 1, you take the II from XII, gets 2 & 10, take the I from IX, (which is just an upside down XI), gives you I towards the 3, & 9, take the I from VIII, gives you I towards the 4, & 7, take II from VIII, gives you the other II for the 3, and 6, finally take the III from VIII giving you the other III for the 4, & 5.
If any of that made sense, the point was that you only had to cast four XII's, and four VIII's. Otherwise, you would need to cast four XII's, and 5 VIII's, and always have the two II's left over.
Or something like that! Try to look it up on Google.

If your still reading, congrats Brian for a neat debut puz. Simple, but fun.


Unknown 9:44 AM  

Sorry, Rex.

I loved the puzzle - even the corny puns.

Anonymous 9:54 AM  

You gotta feel sorry for poor ol' Rex. Someone is obviously placing a gun to his head and forcing him to not only solve puzzles he hates, but then do a daily blog about them.

Nancy 9:54 AM  

@Lewis (7:53) -- Now that's what I call really clever punning! This puzzle could have used you to great AVAIL. You could have provided some actual YUKs.

Slick Willie 10:10 AM  

Bill Clinton returns from a vacation in Arkansas and walks down the steps of Air Force One with two pigs under his arms. At the bottom of the steps, the honor guardsman steps forward and remarks, "Nice pigs, Mr. President"

Clinton replies, "I'll have to let you know that these are genuine Arkansas Razor Back Hogs. I got this one for Chelsea and this one for Hillary. So, now what do you think?"

The honor guardsman answers: "Nice trade, Sir."

Joseph Michael 10:13 AM  

Congrats on the debut, Brian.

Liked that the themers tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end. Thought FINNISH LINE worked best and POLE INTO FIRST least.

Also liked SCRUNCHIE which I didn't know was a thing but was gettable from the crosses. Even if you're Brad Pitt, however, ponytails on men are almost as bad as man buns.

The "Lungful" clue is off since it means an "amount" of something breathed in at the same time, It's not the something itself, which could be AIR or smoke. Otherwise one could say he "breathed in an AIR of AIR."

@evildoug, excellent take on "Lorena."

@lewis, great punnery. If geography weren't GREEK to me, I might have COME up with a couple of country puns myself, but I'm sure they would have been LAOSy.

Johnny 10:14 AM  

POLE INTO FIRST makes no sense to me, neither as "pole" or "poll." You can "pole" before a race has begun, but after the start the pole is irrelevant. The same with "poll" as in an electoral race: you can poll first but you don't poll into first. I don't know about pole vaulting maybe that's what they mean.

newspaperguy 10:24 AM  

If you are stabbed, you have a stab wound. Can I get a copy of this rule book that Rex suggests that all puzzle makers must adhere to? What a clown.

kodak jenkins 10:25 AM  

I'd like to thank all the commenters for deepening my appreciation of these puzzles. Your observations illuminate the finer details of the construction and give me some good laughs.

I'm not sure i like SCRUNCHIE but am amused it found its way in.

I think RASTAFARI didn't get a great clue. Not all Rastas wear dreads and many people with dreads are not Rastas. It seems the word itself, Rastafari, can refer to Haile Selassie OR the religion OR the people who follow the religion.

Love the tetchiness today.

jberg 10:26 AM  

Thanks to @Andy S. for a more fun interpretation of 17A. I'd seen it in a more macabre way -- AMMO crossing "This round's on me."

Two tough parts: getting rid of ScAr at 1A (one you've seen "The Student Prince," you can't think of anything else there), and mixing up the SMEE/SnEE distinction. Misremembering SMEW from a couple days back, I thought SMEE must be a duck,so I put in SnEE.

On the other hand, I enjoyed seeing both AMOS & Andy and Currier & IVES in the same puzzle.

@mathgent, what you say is true, but it's FINNISH, not Finn in the puzzle.

Closing thought: If China is in the FAR EAST, why do we travel West to get there?

Tom 10:40 AM  

As a Formula 1 race fanatic, have to agree with Rex. POLEINTOFIRST is just plain stoopid. Never has and never will be a description in the first lap.

semioticus (shelbyl) 10:41 AM  

Ah, this was bad. Starting today, I've decided to rate puzzles on these five factors: Fill, Theme/Long Answers, Clues, Pleasurability (aha moments, smiles etc.) and Day Appropriateness so that my ratings will be consistent. (Some might find this tedious but hey, OCD and love of Excel doesn't come cheap!)

Today's puzzle gets a 43/100. An OK fill, very bad theme (lame, inconsistent puns), OK clues, not pleasurable at all overall and isn't the perfect Tuesday puzzle. And that's a C-. That's not the best grade to get on your debut, but alas. Better puns next time!

Z 10:47 AM  

@pmdm - Makes sense, still the order isn’t necessarily required to be undo, cut, copy, paste. Yet, C was chosen for copy, the scissor like X for cut, and the upside down insert like character for paste. Maybe serendipity, maybe unconscious, maybe just happenstance (but what fun is that?). Also, I’m pretty sure the keyboard shortcuts we know today originated on MacIntoshes (I will note that the linked article mirrors my reasoning on the choices but doesn’t cite any support).

@LMS and @Lewis - I notice that @Evil Doug, @Nancy, and I all have pet anonymice, but neither of you do (although @Lewis managed to piss people off once upon a time by daring to offer bonus brain teasers - the original PPP). Methinks you need to try harder. ; > )

Three (for the first time in a long time) and out.

Two Ponies 10:47 AM  

@ jberg 10:26,
I always have the same issue with snee/smee.
The mnemonic that works for me is to
remember the expression "snick and snee."
The pirate is the other one.

As for the pun of Pole I believe it is a pun on the word Pull.

Anonymous 10:53 AM  

Haile Selassie did not have dreadlocks

Mohair Sam 10:59 AM  

Great debut Brian Thomas - I loved everything about this puzzle. I love godawful awful puns and these qualified. I love that the race was run in proper sequence. I loved the fresh long downs (SCRUNCHIE!), and diving down for the memory bubble with EREMITE. Fun stuff on a Tuesday.

Clearly your sense of humor and Rex's don't agree - this is a good thing. Unfortunately this triggered a vitriolic response from OFL and some new rule about each pun needing to be a consistent part of speech - ignore him. Each pun needed a noun describing a citizen of a European country playing into a racing term - it did just that. I'm just thankful you did not give into the temptation to include a car being LAPPed.

@Evil Doug (6:29) - How can you remember these things?

@Lewis (7:53) - Excellent!

Blue Stater 11:03 AM  

Just awful. Today and yesterday are what happens when you focus on being famous rather than doing your day job. How long, O Lord(s), how long?

Anonymous 11:19 AM  


I don't know if you're serious, but you do know all the Seinfeld scripts are readily available on the interwebs. It's just a simple cut and paste job.
And if you mean how does he remember the subject matter, I submit there's a Seinfeld episode playing in more than 75% of the country's top markes this red hot minute, or will be within the next two hours. Any fan who hasn't seen every episode many, many times would have no trouble invoking any number of Sienfeldian subjects.

Sir Hillary 11:22 AM  

This puzzle did nothing for me, and I am definitely not Hungary for more.

As the father of three girls with long, pretty straight hair, I did love seeing SCRUNCHIE though.

Anonymous 11:22 AM  


I'm not your pet, asshole. I'm your antagonist.

mathgent 11:32 AM  

@semioticus: Good luck keeping up with your ratings. If you do, please post your averages from time to time. I recommend eliminating Day Appropriateness. That doesn't speak to the quality of the puzzle.

Your rating is much more sophisticated than my "red plus signs in the margin" system. I just stopped recording these scores after about a year Here are some of my statistics.

Averages by day (I don't do the Sunday regularly).

Monday: 4.9.
Tuesday: 7.9.
Wednesday: 9.6.
Thursday: 11.4.
Friday: 14.5.
Saturday: 16.5.

Before compiling the averages above, I had compiled them about halfway. The final averages were higher than the halfways for every day of the week. So, at least from my point of view, the quality of the puzzles has improved over the last five months or so. The biggest improvement was in the Monday's, the smallest improvement was in the Saturdays, both in gross difference and percentage difference.

GILL I. 11:42 AM  

@Z...Me thinks you left yourself wide-open for that one. Peeve away.
Good job @Brian Thomas and congratulations on today's smile inducing puzzle.
I'm so easily amused and will roar with laughter (after a few stiff drinks) at just about anything. Remember the elephant jokes? And my all time favs where the rabbi, priest and some other schmo walked into a bar. That's how I felt today except I haven't had a drink (yet).
This was a fun and seemingly innocent Tuesday. It made me think of words like FLIP FLOPS and how they are shoes and not switch positions or why HARPS is something you dwell on instead of play on. HAZY is what LA is just about every day instead of being imprecise, MONTE belongs with Carlo rather than any hustler's game and YUK without its C sounds like the relative of GNU.
Liked it...

Mikey from El Prado 11:42 AM  

Sheesh Rex, lighten up. Such harsh criticism would only be merited if you and most other experienced solvers DID NOT solve due to poor cluing or extreme inconsistent theming. But, most of us got it. Why should the rules of NYT crosswords be in the vein of fundamentalism? Why does extremely harsh criticism have to be in such vogue - are you taking cues from our country's leadership? I'm still disheartened by your cruel review of the puzzle from our beloved blogger, George Barany. That was really mean spirited and uncalled for.

Carola 11:47 AM  

FINNISHING the puzzle, I imagined @Rex's reaction: "I can't take it anymore! I'm off to become an EREMITE!" For me, it was a photo finish between NO! NO! on the puns and admiration for the theme sequence + fine Downs.

@Nancy, I loved your dwarfs! Speaking of the Marx Brothers, we also have HARPS, which could be his current nickname, on the order of Wills (Prince William), adorbs, and whatevs.

Masked and Anonymous 11:52 AM  

CZECH it out, @RP … brutal punthemers! yep. Trouble brewin. I just knew @RP wasn't gonna like this.

There's a lotta good stuff in this TuesPuz debut meat, actually…

* UPCS. har. Ok, so I got the bad stuff off the table right away. But most of the fill is really clean. The weejects were all so respectable, U could take em to Sunday school with U. [staff pick: YUK.]
* 5 U's. Slightly above average. Not great, but good.
* SCRUNCHIE. Learned somethin new. Like. [Auto-correct does not like, btw; re-saws it off after the "scrunch" part.]
* FLIPFLOP. Primo extra long-ball.
* CZECHEREDFLAG. This themer was so desperate, my nose ran with delight. Well done: saved the most outlandish for last. FUNny stuff, this theme.
* IIII. Has already been discussed thoroughly above by clock experts. Verdict: it's cute and scrunchie. It don't have the Patrick Berry Usage Immunity, but heck, "III" does, so what the hey.
* Only 74 words. Average word length over 5. day-um. Brave debut construction. Rockin rookie grid.

Thanx and congratz, Mr. Thomas. NYT czech is in the mail, dude.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


pmdm 11:54 AM  

Z: Probably once they decided where to assigned the four editing keys on the keyboard, they tried to order the edit functions to simplify remembering their order. X for put and C for copy were probably no-brainers. It's logical to put paste alongside copy, so undo would have gotten Z by process of elimination. Since Apple was (and still is) so secretive, we probably will never no for sure.

You are correct that it was first on the Mac, the only operating system that used a graphical interface in the beginning. It wasn't until the Microsoft operating system morphed from MS-DOS to Windows that Microsoft stole the convention from the Apple GUI. At one time, between home and work, I had to use the Mac OS, Windows, MS-DOX and Unix at the same time. I
m not sure I've recovered yet from having to know how to do the same thing four different ways.

Anonymous 11:57 AM  

Congrats on a fine debut puzzle, Brian. Keep at it; only six more, and you'll have as many as Michael Sharp. Happy birthday to your mom.

Jeremy Smith

Skeptic53 11:59 AM  

I wanted "esposa" at 46 across. Crossed me up for a bit. Had to use some down clues. Rex has no time for those of us who try to do the puzzle only using the across clues. But I like to try as it makes the solve last longer and I enjoy it more. To each their own.

ZanyDwarf 12:20 PM  

This theme-ick makes little sense. I’ve never heard the expression “pull into first” so that fell flat. Isn’t it “pull in front” or perhaps “move into first place”? I might be too literal here but I don’t like it when themes stretch the bonds of credulity to create tortured conceits.

Mohair Sam 12:29 PM  

@Anonymous (11:19) - Obviously he cuts and pastes from the scripts - but I'm amazed that he sees SCRUNCHIE and it rings a Seinfeld bell. This loyalist still watches a couple of reruns a month, but never ever relates them to the puzzle - Doug does it all the time, much to my delight.

@Gill I - Thanks for the reminder on the elephant jokes, thanks a lot. Jesus.

evil doug 12:35 PM  

Mohair--the thing I like most about posting Seinfeld clips is that my anonymous goof always whines about it. He can't help himself! It's like I have my own pet monkey!

Fred Romagnolo 12:47 PM  

I thought ALL grandfather clocks used IIII for four (for four, cute, huh?) Thinking that the puns were all homophones, POLE INTO FIRST (the 1st one I came to, I use Nancy's system of solving) made me think of a regatta (in Venice); it threw me for a while. Never heard the term SCRUNCHIE; although my son had a pony tail for years, he used rubber bands. I wanted 2 more spaces for 10D (for "an") so learned today the word RASTAFARI, thanks, bloggers! For tired crosswordese, I nominate LEI. Shouldn't the clue to 61A have included the word "once?" Is there anyone around these days who think of eclipses as OMENs?

chasklu 12:53 PM  

Regarding IIII, a truly rare clock numeral would be IV. The vast majority of clocks with Roman numerals use IIII. A lot of newer clocks use Arabic numerals, but most antiques use Roman, most of which use IIII.

semioticus (shelbyl) 12:56 PM  


Thanks for the notes. I wanted to have five categories to make it a more balanced approach, but I think I might have to switch to four if I cannot come up with something else eventually. I'm not super cozy to day appropriateness either.

I actually like your system, which sounds easier to keep up/be consistent with but I do the puzzle online which makes it really hard to take notes while/after solving. Alas.

Bax'N'Nex 1:05 PM  

So this was neither fun nor boring for me. Just meh. It was a fun figuring out the puns (which I love). I was able to suss out the last three without down(s) help, but couldn't see "Pole into first", probably because it's a dumb pun. The rest were good.

Hey Michael...your hero (and mine, actually)Merl Reagle used this format all the time, but now you hate it. Such a tool. (BTW...if you posters out there have never done Merl's puzzles, he has, like 15 or more books of Sunday puzzles you can purchase from his website, Never a bad puzzle. He was the greatest and such a loss to the puzzle world. RIP, Merl

And @anonymous one is placing a gun to Mike's head. Any narcissistic, egomaniac will do this just to see his words in print. Like I've said...he's one of the "cool kids" in the corner that hates everything, just so he can feel something.

I love doing crosswords and don't get: A. the obsession with speed thing. "Get it done as fast as I can, to get it over with" is not my idea of fun. That's what you do when you are pulling off a band-aid or getting a shot (no,not taking a shot). And B. The angry rants about this (supposedly) pleasant form of entertainment. It's many times the best part of my day. I just appreciate the constructors and their efforts. I know I couldn't do better, so I thank them.

Jumping off my soapbox and getting back to work...

Anonymous 1:08 PM  

It's funny that people can't believe Michael does not know many literature references, since he is an English major. He teaches Crime (pulp) fiction and comic books at a state school in NY. Not teaching the classics, that's for sure.

Teedmn 1:09 PM  

Many's the fantasy book character who has suffered a STAB wound so I'm with @newspaperguy10:24 that @Rex's rant on 1A is off.

Except for deciding that a common word in many university names was Saint, I had no writeovers today so it must have been easy. I got some YUKs from the puns and felt the rest was fairly clean.

@Gill I, I guess I've never thought about why the HARP is singled out as a nagging instrument. It reminded me of the quote from the Taming of the Shrew that @The Bard provided on Sunday, where Hortensio was beaned by a lute (I always mix up lutes and lyres in my head). Perhaps it comes from the HARPies of mythology...

With Thanksgiving coming up, I'm sure many of us are planning on what VITALS we'll be serving up. As a pescatarian, my menu doesn't match up with the usual turkey/dressing/mashed potatoes. Perhaps some of you will be serving GNU with your TWEET potatoes?

Congratulations, Brian Thomas, on your crossword debut. Too bad it got the Tuesday treatment.

Anonymous 1:15 PM  


Huh? I was responding to @Mohair. Stay in your own lane you shit stain. By the way, any jerkoff can parrot someone's else material. Try using original material. Oh right, you don't have any.

As I said originally, Seinfeld is on so often and has been for so long, even a semi-conscious drooler like Evil would be hard pressed not to hear a dozen things that the show invoked, explored, lampooned or otherwise mentioned. You're easily impressed by fan boy stuff.


Your simian superior

evil doug 1:18 PM  

Yeah, I see you're in a real bind now, Coco. If you keep whining, you confirm your chimp status. But if you withdraw, then I've demonstrated that I control you. What to do? Godspeed, Coco!

xyz 1:26 PM  

Sloppy puzzle, very easy and I'm with Rex on the level of quality. Ugh.

Anonymous 1:27 PM  

Who's the master here Doug? I who made the first claim, or you who's only made untenable claims, and tried to deflect legitimate criticism while on you back foot.

You're a real piece of work, Doug. Why the sarcasm? And why not heed the customary rule of three posts and out?
You know and I both know why. You fancy yourself a wit and prince of the board. You'll indulge that ego of yours all day. Go ahead post again to prove me wrong.
Sad, really. I have honor; I've used my three posts. I'm out.

Go pound sand.

Until tomorrow,

your moral and intellectual better

Sexy Sadie 2:11 PM  

All I can say for the speed solvers is I hope you don't screw like you solve puzzles.

Anonymous 2:26 PM  

I have no animal in this fight. But for the record, Koko was a gorilla, not a chimp. And don't get me started on that Jane Goodall!

Dian Fossey

chucolo 2:38 PM  

Yep. I have one, too.

Anonymous 2:41 PM  

Had esposa for "spouse in Oaxaca". A woman does not have to be married to be called señora in Mexico.

Larry Gilstrap 2:49 PM  

And in the news, lots of guys with HAZY memories these days; it's an epidemic. Also, I assume there are many guys out there who are hoping some women have impaired recall.

Today's theme is reminiscent of the Spike Jones comedy musical adaptation of the William Tell Overture with Doodles Weaver providing a voice over of the call of a fictional horse race. Here Comes Beetle Bomb, spoiler alert, the surprise winning mount; puns are based on the names of the horses: "Girdle in the stretch," or "Chewing Gum sticking to the rail," or "Cabbage leading by a head." Amusing enough.

AVAST is prominent in that whole inane pirate talk thing that won't seem to die out. I wondered how authentic its use was in the lexicon of real seamen, such as Yankee Whalers. A quick perusal of my trusty Moby-Dick assures me that Ahab used it and meant it. Looking forward to seeing it again soon in a puzzle near you.

mathgent 2:49 PM  

@jberg (10:26): No big deal, but I think that my point is legit. FINNISH has ISH tacked onto the end of FINN just as CZECHERED has ERED tacked onto the end of CZECH.

mathgent 2:54 PM  

evil doug (12:35): Best put down of a troll I've seen. Congratulations.

Ray Yuen 3:14 PM  

Haters gotta hate, and Rex has been hating a lot lately. Give it a rest. When 3/4 commenters like the puzzle, maybe you're the problem.

Kimberly 3:26 PM  

What I found most unacceptable was the lack of consistency of form in the theme answers: Finnish and Russian... but Pole instead of Polish. And czechered isn’t even a word in any form. I kept grimacing.

It has been an odd week so far. But at least it fires up Rex and that’s always fun to watch.

GILL I. 3:27 PM  

@Mohair....Just for you:
Q: What does Tarzan say when he sees a herd of elephants in the distance?
A: "Look, a herd of elephants in the distance."

I'm now off to make my daughters favorite Banana cheese cake for Thanksgiving. Screw pecans.

Loren Muse Smith 3:43 PM  

@Gill I - you know, that's a two-part joke.

Part II:

Q. What did Tarzan say when he saw a herd of elephants wearing sunglasses in the distance?

A. Nothing. He didn't recognize them.

Hungry Mother 3:45 PM  

I think I first ran into the control key sequences while using WordStar. I still use CNTRL C and V for most of my copying and pasting under Wndows.

Carola 3:47 PM  

@Teedmn, @Gill I. - Your comments made me curious about HARPing, so I went (electronically) to the library. The OED has: "to harp upon, on a, one, the same (etc.) string: to repeat a statement or dwell on a subject to a wearisome or tedious length" and offers these citations:
?1531 J. Frith Disput. Purgatorye i. sig. c5 Se how he harpeth all of one stringe.
1535 T. More Hist. Richard III in Wks. (1557) 49/2 The Cardinall made a countinance to the tother Lord, that he should harpe no more vpon that string.
1568 V. Skinner tr. R. González de Montes Discouery Inquisition of Spayne f. 7 They are sure still harping on their old string.
1685 Refl. Baxter 25 He harps much upon that jarring String.
1837 T. Carlyle French Revol. II. v. vi. 323 Harping mainly on the religious string.
In later years the "one string" part got dropped.

Teedmn 4:01 PM  

@Carola, thank you for the information. I imagine plucking one note over and over would become rather jarring to the listeners.

TomAz 4:17 PM  

That clue for RASTAFARI is flat out wrong. Yes, I know Haile Selassie was also titled Ras Tafari. But Selassie did not wear dreads. Not even close. The guy in dreads is (or, rather, may be) a RASTAFARI*AN* as Rex noted.

I still don't understand the answer POLEINTOFIRST. I mean, I don't understand what it's supposed to be punning. Is it "Pull into first"? There's a significant vowel sound change there if it is, which would be a major fail, which makes me think it might be something else, but I'll be damned if I can figure it out.

Otherwise, I did enjoy the theme. I think I have a higher tolerance for goofy puns than Rex does.

Anonymous 4:18 PM  

Here's the three-part Tarzan joke I learned:

What's the difference between a bunch of grapes and a herd of elephants?
Grapes are purple.

What did Jane say when she saw a herd of elephants coming over the hill?
Look, a herd of elephants!

What did Tarzan say when he saw a herd of elephants coming over the hill?
Hey! A bunch of grapes! (Tarzan was color blind).

JohnA401006 4:45 PM  

sb “pull into 1st”

GILL I. 4:52 PM  

@Loren...Do I have to pay before existing?
@Carola...I just LOVE, LOVE, finding out about word origins. The HARPS origination makes some sense to me. I remember looking up terms like "got up on the wrong side of the bed" and its meaning for being irritable. It seems that the left was considered sinister in the middle ages since most people were "right" handed. Innkeepers would push the bed up against the wall so that you HAD to get out on the right side to prevent the demons from entering your dreams. You got up on the left and you were in for a HEAP of trouble.
@Anony 4:18...Thanks...I need to drink.

Mohair Sam 5:21 PM  

@Gill I: #$@%!

kitshef 5:45 PM  

Late check-back-in today.
@Nancy and @Dian Fossey posts made my evening.

Joe Dipinto 5:55 PM  

Rather a Tuesday comedown from Monday's sparkler, I must say. The puns just... don't really work as a coherent set of themers.

Nice to have it confirmed by posters here that grandfather clocks mostly do use IIII -- I was kind of remembering that to be the case as I filled the answer in.

Two Ponies 5:56 PM  

@ Carola, Let me second the thanks re: harp. Great stuff that just makes my day. Then along comes @ GILL I with background on wrong side of the bed and I'm really giddy. Yes, I am a card-carrying word nerd.

Rastafari might be technically wrong but I have heard it used plenty of times in the context of today's puzzle.

There must be some way to tie in the Tarzan jokes and @ e.d.'s pet monkey but I'm not clever enough to do it justice.

nick strauss 9:04 PM  

HAZY. LADA cars zipping through Eastern Europe. BMW? Got through another Ruby Tuesday.

Paperback Writer 9:57 PM  

@BarbieBarbie But Haile Selassie was not a 'Person with dreads'

Anonymous 10:14 AM  

Are there places where pull and pole sound alike (like "marry merry Mary" do in some parts)?

Warren Howie Hughes 11:07 AM  

Good Golly, Miss MALI! It would seem that Brian Thomas went to great PAINS to cause Rex to FRET, bordering on an outright FIT!? In fact, ESAU to it, Big Time!

satellite73 9:38 PM  

Person with dreads : rastafari
Person with a yarmulke : Moses

thefogman 9:15 AM  

DNF because of MONTy.
Rex is right. This one's not going to make it to the classic puzzles hall of fame. This being Boxing Day, it should be returned to the merchant for a refund.

Burma Shave 10:49 AM  


Don’t go RUSSIANPAST, NOR FLIPFLOP on a SENORA SLY and well-versed
to LOVE your BONEMASS, who you’re LIKEN to FIT your POLEINTOFIRST.


spacecraft 10:51 AM  

Funny: posters above have seen clocks with IIII--including one who's never seen IV! I have never seen anything BUT IV on a clock. In either case, the I lineup is a serious defect--and it's not the only one. Though not as vitriolic as OFL (impossible!), I agree in principle with most of what he said. Others give this debut congrats; I say DQYDJ.*

More ATO. @Andy S: you had to be LOOKING for this stuff. Stop it!

DOD Lorena OCHOA's golf prowess does not save our debuter. Despite the occasional ZANY YUK, he gets a bogey.

*Don't quit your day job

rondo 12:09 PM  

“You can see the cars in the far turn if UKRAINEYOURNECK.”
“There would be more racers if they’d SWEDENTHEPURSE.”
Places like Bosnia-Herzegovina or Slovakia are tougher to FIT in. Cornball? Yes. Surprising for a Tuesday? No. Take a STAB at the puz, make the blog POST with someone else’s TWEET as validation, move on. Don’t have a FIT. Easy enough for no write-overs here.

I was fortunate enough to see yeah baby Lorena OCHOA play golf in person, just as she was about to overtake Annika Sorenstam for #1 in the world. But Annika won that particular tournament.

Not a ZANY puz and no big YUKs, just get yourself to the FINNISHLINE.

Diana, LIW 12:20 PM  

This vaguely reminded me of the Sunday puzzle's punny longer answers. So I'm on a happy roll. One letter dnf - BFD - loved it anyway. (AS a Finn, esp. the FINNISH line.)

C'mon, @Rex, I never heard of EREMITE either - we both LEARNED something. Phew! (Sounds like the root of "hermit" is in there.) It's either too easy or too hard in your little universe. (And spelling MONTy gave me my dnf - big bleeping deal. It's a puzzle. I do it for fun.)

And I knew as soon as I sussed the first pun that the "self-described" "King of Crosswords" would declare "off with his head." "And the horse what brung ya." (the editor)

A puzzle full of IIIIs would be boring, but one? Try to make a puz w/o a bit of fluff or fill. Go ahead, @Rex, I've seen your puzzle alphabet runs. As for the rest of your list of fill, none were "overfamiliar." Wonder how SCRUNCHIE and FLIPFLOPS got a pass - did they pay a bribe? Really - who cares if the "parts of speech" are consistent - 'twould be a nice touch, but that's all. And, BTW, I do puzzles in lesser dailies, and know an easy puzzle when I see one. And I don't dis the constructors - they supply a fun pastime.

Finally - yes, it is a STAB wound. Sheesh!

Conclusion - puzzle, accepted. Review - rejected for improvement (see above advice re same).

Diana, Best Ever Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords (self described)

Anonymous 12:49 PM  

Kudos to Evil Doug! Another great Seinfeld/Kramer exchange! Itmade my day, especially after reading sourpuss Rex. Has anyone ever commented about his attacks on the NY Times puzzle? Was he turned down for a job there?

rainforest 2:05 PM  

Mistake! I read @Rex for the first time in a while. I see he's still on the sarcastic "Best puzzle in the world" train. Jeez, you'd think he'd find some other way to throw out his garbage.

Puzzle was entertaining in a groany pun sort of way, and I liked it.

Fact: My Dad bought an ornate pendulum clock to sit on our mantle. Besides its annoying chimes at too many times of the day, its main feature was IIII which I thought was kind of neat. Also the tiny screws holding the numbers on the face were so cute.

I dunno, @Spacey, though I usually bow to your perspicacity, I think a par is deserved on this one.

thefogman 2:53 PM  

When I'm Moroccan around the clock shop, I often spot a number IIII.

leftcoastTAM 3:42 PM  

Not a perfectionist like Rex, but had to pause at some of the entries he didn't much like.

SCRUNCHIE was the last word in. Don't think I've heard of it before. That one slowed me down further.

Almost DNF'd, which would have been tough to take on Tuesday.

Michael Leddy 11:28 AM  

Six weeks after the fact (syndication), but I’ll pipe up anyway: EREMITE, which Frost makes reference to, comes from Keats’s sonnet “Bright Star.” In high school my children had a chorus teacher who told the class that eremite was an element that Keats discovered. Sheesh. I wrote up the full story:

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