Source of multicolored Maos / THU 6-14-18 / Way to put legislators on record / Dual-purpose viewing equipment / Classic fantasy game informally / Promontory with tragic romantic story connected to it

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Constructor: Joe Krozel

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (~5:50 ... though clock read in the low 8s ... explanation below)

THEME: ROLL CALL VOTE (1A: With 44- and 76-across, way to put legislators on record ... or the start, middle and end of a word ladder) — a word ladder [yes, in the year of our lord 2018, a word ladder] that goes from ROLL to VOTE, with CALL at the center. The other "steps" in the ladder have nothing to do with legislators, afaict]:

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: AISHA Tyler (17A: Talk show host/actress Tyler) —
Aisha N. Tyler (born September 18, 1970) is an American talk show host, actress, comedian, author, producer, writer, and director. She is known for portraying Andrea Marino in the first season of Ghost Whisperer, voicing Lana Kane in Archer, portraying Dr. Tara Lewis in Criminal Minds and portraying Mother Nature in the Santa Clause film series, as well as recurring roles in CSI: Crime Scene InvestigationTalk Soup and Friends. She is a former co-host of CBS's The Talk, and the host of Whose Line Is It Anyway? Tyler also hosted Ubisoft's E3 press conferences from 2012 to 2016, and has made various video game appearances including Halo: Reach and Ubisoft's Watch Dogs where her voice and likeness are featured. (wikipedia)
• • •

Do you really need me for this? I'll give you a little peek at what solving this puzzle was like inside my household tonight. Me: [opens puzzle, reads 1-Across, closes puzzle, rethinks chosen blogging lifestyle]. Wife, speaking from next room: "Alright, here I go ... oh, god." It's so bad. It's all so bad. First, it's a word ladder. And honestly, we can stop there. No one wants a word ladder. They are joyless exercises in joylessness. They are the mustiest, oldest, tiredest of theme concepts, and though this one tweaks the concept ever-so-slightly (by making the first middle and last "step" a coherent phrase), the tweaking was minor and weird, and in the end, it was still a word ladder. There is nothing to them. Literally nothing. I mean, check out the clues ... imagine thinking [Sixth clue ...] is a good thing, an exciting thing, a reason you subscribe to the "greatest puzzle in the world." And there are So Many Steps Dear Lord Whyyyy!? And you can go from PALL straight to MALL! Why are there all those other "steps"? What kind of circuitous "ladder" is this??? This, solvers, is what it looks like when a monopoly thumbs its nose at you. And it's oversized (16-wide!). LOL. Enjoy!

I sincerely shut the puzzle down so I could mentally regroup, so visceral was my negative reaction to 1-Across. Long, convoluted ... and—and I can't stress this enough—a word ladder. So I was probably 2 and half minutes away from the puzzle before I started it in earnest. I finished in the low 8s, so I figure I was in the high 5s, but I was never really doing this with any kind of pace. My heart just wasn't in it. I would never have bothered with this puzzle At All if I hadn't had to write about it. Would've quit at 1-Across and not felt bad about it at all. But I did solve it, so ... there are some really off-putting things in here. CHOKE COLLAR, for one. They're bad. They have the word "choke" in their name. If they were nice, they'd have a nicer name. When was choking ever good. Please don't at me with your fake-woke "Well actually some dogs..." nonsense. Choking is something you can take right out of my puzzle, thanks—unless a team chokes in a game, or you choke up on a bat, or maybe there's some slang for artichokes out there ... but choking living beings, pass. Worse, way worse, is the eugenics nonsense clue on ROYAL BLOOD (19A: Nice genealogical find). "Nice?" "Nice?" Who are you? Who wrote this, my racist great aunt?* Who the heck cares about the royalness of blood. Ick, this racist world is bad enough without people fetishizing blood like that. Hard pass. Oh, and then we've got suicide at LOVER'S LEAP, so that's nice. This puzzle is putrid at every level. Here, I'm gonna let other people take over now, bye.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

*this great aunt is fictional, but, you know, plausible

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Unknown 12:09 AM  

My favorite bit is when RAD, supposedly an "update" of "groovy," crossed TVVCR, which is definitely also a thing that has been said or used by humans since the mid-90s, which in turn crossed TABLETPC, which is definitely a thing that a human and not an alien imposter would say in a Best Buy. "Greetings, fellow sentient carbon biped! Can you direct me to your most-RAM-having TABLETPC?" Yeeeeeeeeesh.

Harryp 12:10 AM  

Handling word ladders is not something I do well, but this Thursday offering came in below average time. I completely muffed this weeks' New Yorker poser, so I am glad to have finished this one.

jae 12:16 AM  


This one did not do it for me...the reasons, I believe, have already been covered.

Clark 12:35 AM  

First three words in the puzzle for me were ROLL CALL VOTE, then all of the crosses, then the rest. I figured the finding of ROYAL BLOOD was nice because (what do I know?) you might get DNA evidence that would be extremely interesting. I'm guessing, however, that blood evidence would deteriorate pretty quickly. But, as I said, what do I know? It would have to be white blood cells. I could google this some more, but I am not that interested. Outrage, however, was not part of my emotional response to this clue and answer.

Word ladders don't set me off, so I found the puzzle relatively enjoyable -- for a non-rebus Thursday.

Z 12:50 AM  

Rex is wrong. There is somebody somewhere who loves word ladders. That someone is not me.

puzzlehoarder 12:53 AM  

This was a bottom of the barrel Thursday. A very thin theme. The unclued ladder entries we're annoying. As much as possible I tried solving this as a themeless so in a way the lack of actual theme was an asset. The unclued material AMPED up the difficulty.

I know the 1A clue spells things out pretty clearly but all I got out of it was that this was a word ladder with a political theme. Typical of my solving I mostly dealt with the clued fill and wondered why the word ladder entries had nothing to do with the theme because by then I'd forgotten. Unclued entries are a cheap way to generate difficulty but it worked on me.

My best break of the puzzle was WILLEM going right in off of just the clue. This gave me OWLET and allowed me to change LABLE to LABEL. My usual bad spelling.

I misread the 27D clue as ASPCA. When SOCIETY didn't fit I put in everything around that one before I bothered to reread the clue.

This is only the second time MENSREA has appeared but as an entry but as a clue for REA it's been used to death.

I got some solving enjoyment out of this but I didn't come away thinking this was a good Thursday.

chefwen 12:57 AM  

Rez said it all for me.

Trombone Tom 12:58 AM  

A word ladder and not a good one at that.

This is far less than I expect from the NYT crossword, especially on Thursday.

ROLL CALL VOTE may be partial redemption, but not much.

I've resisted OFL's anti-NYT rants, but I am in total agreement today.

I don't intend to keep paying a premium price for such stuff.

BTW my vision of a vacation home is less VILLA and more cabin.

Stanley Hudson 1:11 AM  

Not a good week for the NYT xword puzzle.

#My god.

RAD2626 1:15 AM  

Amazing that it is piling on this early in the commentary but this was incredibly bad: a word ladder that is like something from a magazine rack Dell collection and that does not conform even to “word ladder protocol” and some really bad cluing as well. I really look forward to the Thursday gimmicks. Some are so clever. Most are fun. This was decidedly neither.

Oh, I did not really object to ROYAL BLOOD or its clue. Seemed pretty innocuous to me.

Now we know why Tuesday got POW.

Larry Gilstrap 1:49 AM  

This Thursday got a little tougher when I chose to ignore the word ladder, which generally adds nothing to the solve. Sad, but true.

Please exercise your right to VOTE, unless you are a nut. You would know.

All told, I sat on two bar STOOLS this very evening, and I feel as innocent as a lamb. Not Quinn's Mill, but close.

Love the Elizabethan English. HADST swaggers, HAD limps along. I was raised in a Bible reading church and the KJV was still the text, so I know the Scriptures and most of the Old book. Revelations was generally ignored. After I moved on, I studied Shakespeare. Next step: Moby-Dickhead. The Quaker Captain knew that lingo, but we most often see, "Hast seen the White Whale?"

The EPA still deals with the ECOL? Sleep easy tonight!

Mark 2:37 AM  

This is the loudest and longest I have ever laughed at Rex's write-up. I almost quit when I read clue for 1-A also, but I have no excuse for continuing.

'merican in Paris 2:52 AM  

"Now we know why Tuesday got POW." Hahahaha!

SAD, BAD LAD is MAD at un-RAD x-word. Advice: take RED pill and go to BED. BET, from the 'morrow, the puzzles will start to GET better.

Took me about 7 Rexes again. Would have completed it faster if I hadn't assumed that the words in sequence would make a coherent sentence. Once I sussed out that, except for 1A, 44A and 76A, they wouldn't -- by which time I had completed 75% of the puzzle -- the rest fell quickly.

Mike 2:57 AM  

I remember when I was a kid and worked those Dell variety magazines from cover to cover. Now I’m many, many years past being a kid and hope for better ideas in the NYT.

sanfranman59 3:20 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 1/2/2018 post for an explanation of my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio & percentage, the higher my solve time was relative to my norm for that day of the week. Your results may vary.

(Day, Solve time, 26-wk Median, Ratio, %, Rating)

Mon 4:21 4:30 0.97 38.1% Easy-Medium
Tue 5:38 5:26 1.04 60.0% Medium
Wed 6:11 6:22 0.97 48.1% Medium
Thu 9:37 9:47 0.98 48.7% Medium

Word ladder? Sure. Why not? ROLL CALL VOTE. Yippee! But 44 spaces in my $40 per year puzzle (that's 22% of the answer squares here) that basically have no clue and simply involve changing one letter of a previous word in the puzzle? BOO! Plus, I've gotta live with LETTER I? TVVCR? AISHA Tyler? BOO! WILLEM de Kooning? I'm sure I should know him, but I don't. There's more than one ARLO? Oh, I just noticed that it's a 16x15, so that ratchets down the difficulty rating a tad. Next please.

chefwen 3:40 AM  

Oops, Rex not Rez, sorry ‘bout that.

Loren Muse Smith 4:43 AM  

I always get a kick out of a Krozel puzzle. I feel like he screws his face up a lot and stares at the ceiling thinking, I wonder if I could….. I agree with those who found all the ordinal steps in the ladder clues to be annoying. And not so helpful.

But two things: 1) as stated, this word ladder had a middle step. I like this. 2) Every single four-letter across is part of the ladder. I like this, too.

Thing is, I’m not a medievalist college professor. I’m not a retired psychologist or an interpretive dancer. I’m not a Moby Dickhead. I’m a linguist, so by definition I find stuff to appreciate in every puzzle since there are words in every puzzle. (At least so far. Krozel – get right on that, K?) I come across as all gushy and stuff not because I’m a sickening cheerleader but rather because I’m so fascinated by our language.

The word that had me reverie-ing this morning was IBISES. I’ve always vaguely wondered that since it’s thesis/theses, crisis/crises, basis/bases, then is one ball a testis? And while we’re “down there,” how ‘bout two, ya know. Ahem. Penes? Which leads me to STOOLS. Feces. So one lone stool could be a fecis. (Hi, Aunt LaVerne. Remember your charming show-and-tell? When I was a clueless first-grader? ) And we could tell people we enjoy Vegas ‘cause of all the Elves. Ok. I’m done. (I’ve looked into this, and I think it’s only the Greek words get the es plural. So relax.)

I learned MENS REA from Legally Blonde. That’s why now, even after all these years, deep down I sometimes feel like I don’t belong here with all you subtitled film-watching, offensive language-noticing, tv-eschewing, evolved people.

I agree with @sanfranman59 - LETTER I is pretty icky, but the clue is great. After my fecis thesis, I tried to think of other clues for LETTER I. I got “Baltimore center?” But my favorite, and Joe, you can totally steal this one, is “Second in line?”

If I sent off for my dna info and found out I had ROYAL BLOOD, I’d be insufferable. Find a way to slip it into any conversation I was in. My Aunt Maryon used to do our genealogy and told us we were descendants of George Washington. I bragged like you wouldn’t believe. But I found out after she had long passed that when she couldn’t fill in pieces of our genealogy puzzle she regularly consulted the Ouija board. Seriously.

Rex – I’m with you on the whole CHOKE COLLAR deal. We had a great dane mix, Fred, who pulled on his leash. At 120 lbs, this was a problem. So at the recommendation of the PetSmart guy, I bought one and tried it once. When Fred was brought up short, he turned and looked at me, stunned, like Seriously? I thought I knew you. I trusted you. Collar went in the trash as soon as I got home. (BTW – Great Dane, great Dane, great dane… no one agrees on google how to handle this, and I lost interest.)

FKDiver 4:51 AM  

A joyless slog.

Lewis 6:15 AM  

I see I'm going to be the outlier today after seeing the comments so far and viewing Rex's argument ad populum, but, after looking deep into my soul, the truth is that I have no animus toward word ladders. I don't go out looking for the Will Shortz word ladder collection, volume 4, but I like figuring out the progression of the ladder. And along comes Joe, who is always pushing the envelope, and he makes one where the first, middle, and last words make a coherent phrase -- something I've never seen before, something that helped me fill in letters, as did the ladder itself.

And being that I didn't see "word ladder" and fly into a rage, I enjoyed the solve, was engaged all the way through to the end, only wished for more cleverness in the cluing, and thinking that maybe this would have been better on a Wednesday. But overall, I left the puzzle quite content and grateful for the experience -- so thank you Joe!

I did like the backward LEER abutting OGLE, and as your resident alphadoppeltotter, I must report that this puzzle had an unusually high double letter count (20), including seven double L's.

After running into all the clash and clatter from Rex and commenters so far -- and I truly respect your opinions, folks -- I'm now going to return to that relatively idyllic place I came in on.

three of clubs 6:29 AM  

The challenge of word ladders is in doing them fast. ROLL ROLE ROTE VOTE. Bang, done.


DeeJay 6:37 AM  

In case this is old news, my bad, but I just saw the episode of Brooklyn 99 with a uncredited Will Shortz in a cameo role. It aired April 8.

JOHN X 6:51 AM  

I thought this puzzle was fine if a bit goofy. It's a puzzle, it ain't gonna solve itself, so let's cut the Mickey Mouse and the bellyaching and get down to business. It's the JOHN X way.

I'm not a linguist. I'm not a doctor or a dickhead. I don't even know what a medievalist is, except I think it involves a ball gag. But as a humanitarian I believe in the power of "now" to progress to those things we may achieve in due course of action, as such may be the case as it arises. Do I? Sometimes. When? Not often. Okay then? Sure.

kodak jenkins 6:59 AM  

I like a puzzle that "mixes things up" but I don't want a gimmick at 1 Across. Also-"6th word" is a super crummy clue. Can't we have word ladders AND clues?

The biggest problem with this puzzle is that there were SO many words in the ladder that the rest of the non-ladder clues had to be super easy so we could fill in around the theme.

never heard of and instantly hate MENSREA. Sounds like bad case of diarrhea with bonus features. Ewww.

Still don't get the ire towards answers like CHOKECOLLAR and ROYALBLOOD. Should all puzzles be themed with colors of the rainbow or unicorn references? Sheezus.

This isn't a great puzzle, word ladder or no.

Anonymous 7:01 AM  

Monopoly? Glad you teach comic books and not economics.

Anonymous 7:12 AM  

I had fun with this and found it easy but not without writeovers. The NE CHO, AISHA, VSO gave me fits. Liked EGG(os) next to ROLL.

Teedmn 7:18 AM  

This puzzle certainly provided food for thought - how many barn OWLETS actually grow up in barns? Does the fact that my mother saw a character in a book named Lord Langford (her maiden name) mean I have ROYAL BLOOD? How many tragically named promontories are there? What is MORALE going to be like at our office now that my boss is bringing his dog in, to stay kenneled all day?

My husband grew up on a farm and every few years (maybe every five), someone would take an AERIAL PHOTO of the farmstead and my in-laws would buy a print. When my mother-in-law downsized to an apartment, all five of her children got one. We have ours hanging on the wall.

Theme, okay, fill good, relatively tough to solve, so I'll give this a thumbs up rating, even though word ladders are not what I expect on a Thursday. Thanks, JK.

Anonymous 7:29 AM  

After Rex teased on Twitter that today's puzzle featured "eugenics," I was pretty excited to find out which entry he was talking about. OVA clued as "Fertility clinic donation" because they pre-screen donors? Is AISHA Tyler secretly pro-eugenics? D AND D players are often celibate, but is this really eugenics in the true sense of the word? No, it's ROYAL BLOOD. Eh.

kitshef 7:31 AM  

Somewhat easier than an average Wednesday, despite all the unclued entries.

The thing is, the long acrosses were all aces, and the fill was, overall, pretty good. Run this as a themeless, forget the word ladder aspect and toughen up the clueing and it could have been a nice Friday puzzle.

I particularly liked the symmetrically placed TVVCR and DANDD – one vowel between them.

@LMS Hand up for knowing MENS REA solely from the movie Legally Blonde.

Briefly confused when WaltEr would not work for de Kooning. Mixing up my artists with my Star Trek actors.

Hungry Mother 7:31 AM  

DOOKed by TABLE TPC, but gritted my teeth and entered it. Big surprise that it was right. I like word ladders.

Anonymous 7:35 AM  

Oh damn!!!
I forgot I was supposed to submit a puzzle today!!!

ncmathsadist 7:41 AM  

The former of the ladder is to be cursd.

RavTom 7:42 AM  

Pet peeve: Since the Bible wasn’t actually written in 17th century English, words like HADST aren’t particularly Biblical. The King James isn’t the only version of the Bible.

Unknown 7:46 AM  

It’s spelled “peek”, not “peak”. Bye bye forever, your PC brain one-tracks you on everything.

Marti DiBergi 7:51 AM  

Shit sandwich.

QP 8:03 AM  

Why are people getting so angry? If the NYT puzzles are so worthless, why do it? It is what it is.... quite a few folks out there love it.... it might seem that in the past the puzzles were more challenging, but maybe you guys got too good and outgrew them? I’m enjoying these puzzles just fine...

mathgent 8:09 AM  

@LMS (4:43): I love learning the singular of words which are usually used in the plural, like raviolo. You seem to be saying that "fecis" is not actually a word. What a pity.

I'm with Lewis (6:15): I enjoyed the puzzle and the (flawed) word ladder, but it needed some wittier cluing.

There are more racists around than I knew about. People who are pleased to learn that they are descended from a royal family, for example. (If this doesn't make sense, read Rex's comment.)

The Hermit Philosopher 8:09 AM  

Totally agree with OFL today. Saw 1A and thought “Rex is gonna hate this, and so am I.” Right on both counts, sad to say.

Unknown 8:26 AM  

Well, I thought it was OK. But my wife hated it. Hated it! It might be the start of a long day...

GHarris 8:27 AM  

One man's meat... Liked this a lot. I immediately put in roll call vote and began to fly through the NW. Then got slowed down, especially in the NE but worked through it all and got answers unknown to me. IMHO Rex is either putting us on or has become so jaded he should consider another avocation.

Suzie Q 8:34 AM  

A really long word ladder and some interesting 10-letter fill deserves more respect than Rex and his toadies are giving it.
I think this must have been a bear to construct so kudos to J.K.
Over-thinking the answers is looking for trouble where there is none.
I have to admit that my thoughts were at first a little morbid when I saw "Spend a long time checking out" because I starting thinking of a short word for lingering death. Besides that small moment I generally went with the flow and had some fun.

RooMonster 8:37 AM  

Hey All !
I happen to like word ladders. *Crickets* Hello? I guess I'm the only one. Sure, this one is done in a roundabout way, but Joe had to get CALL in the middle, plus symmetricize it, so I don't mind the longness. (I can too make up words!)

Agree the fill suffers a bit, but there are 11 themers, so I'm willing to forgive some of it. And as @LMS pointed out, there are no other four letter words (Across) beside the theme.

I knew a girl once who always wore A CHOKE COLLAR. You've seen them. Those tight decorative COLLARS women wear. So I'm giving that answer a pass, as that's what I'm thinking for that. No animals were harmed by that clue :-)

Knew MENSREA from that great funny movie, "See No Evil, Hear No Evil" with Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor. Wilders character has a fit, because he thinks MENSREA is a type of disease.

Here is a funny pic for you to brighten your day. :-)


Unknown 8:42 AM  

You are IMO by far the most inventive, original and amusing contributor to this blog, legally blonde notwithstanding.

Unknown 8:44 AM  


pmdm 8:45 AM  

I must be "no one" or "no body" because I enjoy word ladders. Therefore, a rant will follow.

I love classical music. Most do not. (I actually believe that some who do don't like admitting it and try to avoid revealing they like classical music. I know a number of people who fit into that category.) Does that mean no one likes classical music? Of course not.

We seem to have here a group of intelligent people who are not fighting against the influence of group think. Yes, there actually are people who like word ladders (Yes, Lewis, you are not alone and not even close to being an outlier.) There is an incredible amount of whining here today by people who seem to want to influct their preferences on others. Shame!

Am I a little too strident? I re-read the write-up and comments and think not. I don't mind learning that so many of you hate word ladders and therefore hated this puzzle. Too bad, because I enjoyed the puzzle a lot. I could actually care less that the theme includes a word ladder incorporated into the grid. I very much like that Joe limited the across 4 letter words to the word ladder. Unfortunately, there are something like 8 4 letter words in the vertical position that have no relationship (that I can see) to the ladder. OK, Joe, there's a challenge for you.

I greatly dislike calling a word ladder a "gimmick" because the word gimmick tends to have a negative connotation. It IS a feature, unfortunately a feature many do not care for. I often don't follow my own advice, but I think it is better to avoid judgmental words.

LSM, I really enjoyed your comment. I would even call it brilliant (perhaps by accident?).

When I solve a crossword puzzle, I tend to ignore any features (be they rebuses, word ladders or even themed entries) until I am stuck solving the puzzle. Then I try to use the features to help me finish solving the puzzles. And, as a lst resort, I will research (perhaps via google or another search engine) to help me identify all the proper nouns I'm clueless about. Something like a word ladder is just a tool (to my way of thinking) that I only pay attention to if I get stuck. Today I found it a very helpful tool that help me avoid doing computer research =, which I consider to be a huge plus factor in the puzzle's favor.

I'd better stop rambling. Because of a few interruptions, it's been about an hour since I started composing this comment. If it duplicates some comments already posted but not seen by me, sorry. That's the problem with monitored comments, but monitoring the comments tend to eliminate an even worse problem.

Mohair Sam 8:51 AM  

Three things I liked about this puzzle -
1. If I timed myself it's a pretty safe bet that I came close to Rex's time for the first time ever.
2. I read the first clue and said "Oh boy, is Rex gonna go off or what?" He did not disappoint.
3. Finished the puzzle and looked forward to @LMS handling the gargantuan task of digging out the good (she struggled).

Flew through this thing. Hesitated at the "H" in AISHA/CHO, but quickly remembered Margaret's name. Reconsidered CALL because it broke precedent on word ladders (doubled back on the L), and had to fill every letter MENSREA, but the crosses were Monday easy.

Have a niece who got into that genealogical stuff. She sent me a picture of my late Uncle Joe. This was of great interest because I never knew I had an Uncle Joe. But he was the real deal, lived a full life about 75 miles from where I sit. Strange world.

@Rex - The NYT has a monopoly on crosswords? News to me.

@Rex(2) - What's racist about ROYAL BLOOD? - there were plenty of royals in Africa. And so maybe you didn't hear about the English royal wedding a few weeks ago?

Anonymous 8:55 AM  

Puzzles are wordplay.
Word ladders are wordplay.
Your personal taste is irrelevant; word ladders are perfectly valid.
This one was bad, though.

Stanley Hudson 9:11 AM  

Wanna bet that @Anonymous 8:55 is Two Ponies?

The haiku-like lines are the tell.

Matthew 9:17 AM  

"I'd be insufferable." So hard to imagine.

Jamie C 9:20 AM  

Rex: "I would never have bothered with this puzzle At All if I hadn't had to write about it." Um, you hadn't had.

Debbie L. 9:23 AM  

I didn’t love it either. I also would never use a choke collar. I just don’t understand why Rex thinks they shouldn’t be a crossword answer.. How about noose ? Iron Maiden ? Rack ? Gun ? Rifle ? Bomb ? There are a lot of things and people that I don’t like. I don’t see any reason for them to be excluded from the puzzle. Rex really should get over himself or retreat to his safe space and keep quiet.

Anonymous 9:29 AM  

I do like word ladders, just not in crossword puzzles. And you can make a word ladder from ROLL to VOTE in just 2 steps (ROLE, VOLE). So the puzzle word ladder was excruciatingly bad.

Nancy 9:43 AM  

"Mobile workstation" (8D) cost me as much time as the rest of the puzzle put together. First I was thinking of some sort of gas station. (Spelled wrong, yes I realize now.) Then, when EONs later I had TABLET--, I was thinking of some sort of moving TABLE at work -- like those "standing desks" I read about that workers use now. (What a horrible idea, btw.) I never thought of TABLET PC because I don't think about gadgets as "workstations". In fact I don't think about gadgets at all.

Like others, I dislike word ladder puzzles -- but I don't dislike them as much as quote puzzles, so there's that. I found this harder than I should have found it and probably took longer to complete it than most of the rest of you. But I finished it and I wasn't bored. so there's that.

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

If your brain only thinks of royal blood as a Caucasian thing then who's the real racist?

wgh 9:47 AM  

I found this puzzle quite refreshing and enjoyable.

Just kidding; super disappointed as I really look forward to Thursdays.

GILL I. 9:54 AM  

Oooooh. 1A ROLL. I knew some eyes would. Couldn't wait to come here and get my daily chuckle. Started right off with @'merican and my first POW laugh. Thinking...gad, what will we have tomorrow?
I think sometime ago (maybe 30 years or so) I enjoyed word ladders. Maybe this was submitted in 1970 and Will made a promise to Joe that he'd submit his puzzle soon.
I'd like to see a show of hands on how many people have a VILLA or even stayed in one on vacation. I can actually boast of one real one. When I worked for Mexicana we always got freebies so I'm sure we stayed in a couple. Nothing I can remember. Except.....My dad rented one for all of us in Villefranche. (notice the Ville?)
My step-mom is from Nice and her dad lived in sur-Mer and knew everybody. A lady friend of his had this VILLA way up in the mountains overlooking the mer and she needed someone to stay in it and take care of it. Lucky us. We stayed for a month. The VILLA was very old and very charming and has about 20 bedrooms and one bathroom. The kitchen was very large and overlooked the garden. She had one teeny tiny refrigerator that could only hold 3 bottles of champagne so we had to go shopping every day. No wonder the French are so skinny.
My one and only favorite clue was for 31D. I couldn't conjure in my head colored Maos. I thought they might be crayolas. WARHOL to the rescue.
@Roo...Women aren't the only ones wearing CHOKE COLLARS. Matt Lauer thinks they are pretty cute as well.
Only write-over was LGBT because I never can remember who should go first. Isn't it missing the Q?
Please, continue with the dissing. The comments today made it worth my effort to finish this puzzle.

Wm. C. 9:59 AM  

I was also taken back --a bit-- by most of Rexy's negative observations, including the fact that I'm not a fan of word-ladder puzzles. But WOW, he was over-the-top on this one. Also, I see above that I'm not the only one who noticed his " peak."

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

I had the same question. Just was is racist about royalty? Even forgetting the African angle ( or the Asian) Royalty isn't a race. I guess it could be animus to class distinctions. But Rex sure seemed pleased that his kid was sniffing around elite universities. An they are by far, I mean worlds, the biggest offenders of classism in this country.

pmdm, Lewis and if I forgot anybody my apologies, I too like word ladders.

@Will Shortz,
Hemis ARE NOT powerful engines per se. It is just a shortening of the word hemispherical which is an engine design. Many Hemis are quite powerful. Many are not. It's akin to saying a V-8 is powerful. Some are, some aren't. Please drop this clue/answer combo. It really, really grates. Thanks.

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

Living in SoCal I just figured it was another earthquake. Then I downloaded the crossword and realized is wasn't a quake - it was Rex's head exploding.

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

So we see Rex is a racist. There is no royalty in races other than white?

Nancy 10:11 AM  

I've never sent away for a DNA test because I'm quite sure they wouldn't find a single drop of ROYAL BLOOD. Sigh. But if they did, I wouldn't be "insufferable" like @Loren says she would be. I'd be really nice. For instance, I'd give you all some cake.*

Does anyone else confuse Earth Day with Arbor Day? I have a great Arbor Day story. I was a new Freshman at Smith, on the most glorious Fall day imaginable, and I'm walking down from the Quad to the center of the campus for a morning class. (I'd been at Smith for about ten minutes at that point.) I pass a man in front of a lovely house working on his lawn. He calls out to me: "Much too nice a day to sit in a classroom. And anyway it's Arbor Day. Take a walk around the pond. Take out a rowboat. Celebrate the outdoors. Don't bother with class." I waved my hand at him impatiently as I strode by. "You're crazy!" I said.

Later I found out that the guy was Thomas C. Mendenhall, President of Smith College.

*Re first paragraph: I'm kidding, of course.

kgev 10:12 AM  

For once I wholeheartedly agree, Rex. This puzzle was the worst. Boring joyless ..,would make you wonder how crossword puzzles ever became a thing

David 10:20 AM  

Well, 1A made it pretty clear only those three words mattered and there seems to have been a house painter on the ladder with the up and down rungs, but really Rex, they can all fit a large and growing group of our legislators.

They cast a PALL over our country and like to ignore the POLLs telling them we want things they don't like. They'll PALM money ROLLs without a MOTE's worth of shame. The MATEs in this club down on the MALL are overwhelmingly white MALEs, and they're there because 40+ years ago about half of Americans decided to give up their franchise and said, "Screw it, I'm not going to VOTE any more".

KRDMKE 10:34 AM  

Does anyone think Will Shortz reads this blog and purposely puts out puzzles like this just to set Rexy off?

Andrew Heinegg 10:52 AM  

While I agree completely with Rex's rating, if I were his doctor, I would advise him to write about puzzles like today's that he has nothing to say and thus help him to reduce the dosage of his blood pressure medication.

Meanwhile, five stars for LMS today, as usual; she always makes reading the blog worthwhile. And, nice fun story about your first day of college, Nancy;

Wm. C. 10:57 AM  

@Anon9:59 --

Re: Your comment about elite universities being "the biggest offenders of classism."

Not at all true. For example, Harvard has nearly 15% African-American students, whereas overall the US has 12.2 % African-Americans.

It has about 22% Asians, while they comprise under 4% of the US population. Asians are, in fact, discriminated against, because if Harvard admissions were entirely race-neutral, the Asians would have far greater representation than this.

For the past two years, incoming Harvard classes have been majority minority, whereas the US population is over 63% white.

I'm not going to take the time to research these statistics for other top-tier universities, but I'd take a bet that most of these have an over-representation of minorities.

Mickey Bell 11:05 AM  

I think this one was stuffed between Will Shortz’s mattress and box spring since about 1996.

old timer 11:07 AM  

KRDMKE I have often thought so. I would have considered this puzzle a tribute to Maleska but his were better.

No one was descended from George Washington, BTW. He and Martha were childless. As I recall Mt Vernon passed to a brother or nephew.

Nice story, @Nancy. On most campuses if there is a super-nice house and it is not a fraternity or sorority house, it is the official residence of the President.

Speaking of things Greek, the singular of testes is indeed testis.

Joseph Michael 11:07 AM  

Hand up for I Hate Word Ladders. Especially on a Thursday when I greet the puzzle in hopes of a rebus. To add to the dullness, this was surprisingly easy.

My only writeover was ANIMAL PHOTO before AERIAL PHOTO. Yawn.

Anon @9:43am. Right on!

Jeff Lewis 11:11 AM  

I, too, learned MENS REA from Legally Blonde.

Lee Coller 11:11 AM  

When doing genealogical research, once you get into a royal line the work becomes a lot easier as royal lines are well documented.

Malsdemare 11:15 AM  

You can put me in the “It’s just fine” column. I’m not sure there’s ANY kind of puzzle that I hate before even trying it. As word ladders go, this one was a mixed bag. I liked the three part progression, wasn’t too thrilled with the unnecessary semi-duplicates. But, something in this puzzle prompted that fiendishly delicious disquisition from Loren on singulars and plurals. Penes, indeedy! Any puzzle that gets Loren going is terrific in my book.

My prodigiously strong malamutes get choke (training) collars. @lms described a few days ago the training scene from Winterdance, Gary Paulson’s hilarious report of his effort to train for and run in the Iditerod. It reminded me of the dilemma that those of us who mush face when a deer crosses our path: hang on and save the $1000 sled and the priceless team or let go and save your own equally priceless leg or neck? Well, I have had my mals turn me into a human sled — feet or, worse, butt, as runners — on more than one occasion. When the training collar goes on, they get reminded of the value of good manners. It helps to remind yourself that the dog is the one determining what happens; behave himself and he’ll never get a correction.

I’m a genealogist. My distant German cousin has determined that I am related to an abysmal Chancellor of Germany (1917-18), Charlemagne (both of these are documented) and probably Cleopatra. What’s terrific about all this is that people that famous have incredibly well-documented lineages, unlike my reprobate Irish grandfather who apparently was dropped from the skies somewhere on Ireland’s shores, spent his youth getting into trouble, and then emigrated here to sire two boys and then vanish forever. So finding out you have ROYAL BLOOD is exciting because of the wealth of information that is now available to you.

Surprised to learn NYT has a monopoly on crosswords.

Anonymous 11:20 AM  

Wm. C.

Reread my post. Top tier universities are a bastion of elitism. And for the past three decades or so, their alumni have been marrying each other almost exclusively resulting in an elite class sand everyone else. This is uncontroverted. it's true that some don't see it as problematic, though most social scientists do, but is nevertheless a fact.

I never mentioned race. Not once. It was class and by extension socio-economic opportunity. That you missed the point is clear. My question is was it willful because you wanted to talk about race, or was it sheer lack of comprehension?

John Hoffman 11:22 AM  

Hey — I thought that this was a decent puzzle. A word ladder puzzle is good a few times per yea, yes? NE was hard for me. Couldn’t see TABLETPC for a long time. Never heard of AISHA.

jberg 11:25 AM  

I don't really mind word ladders -- I don't go out of my way to find one, but if one comes along I'll solve it. Like @Loren said, words. (Except I'll do Sudoku and KenKen puzzles as well.) Most of the time I am able to resist doing word searches, though. I do think this might have been better if the steps in the ladder were clued as something else.

I saw "Legally Blonde" years ago, in Tokyo, but that notwithstanding I had MENS REm, then changed it to REs, before getting the A from crosses. Toughest part of the puzzle for me. Other problems: sloppy writing, so that I thought 14A would be rOLE, and sloppy putting letters in squares, which had me looking at a pEMI engine.

IVAN I was the first Ivan, but he succeeded his brother and his father, who were earlier in the same line, I guess.

As for ROYAL BLOOD -- it was only aristocratic, not royal, but it didn't do Tess Darbyfield any good.

LHS 888 11:29 AM  

@Wm C - Anon 9:59 said “classism” which is not the same as “racism”.

Count me in as someone who did a crossword puzzle today. I am not offended by word ladders. I did feel that this puzzle was a lot less challenging than I’ve come to expect on Thursdays.

Enjoyed @Nancy’s college story. I wonder what would have happened if you HAD skipped first day classes. My guess is your profs would not have been amused.

I’m still chuckling about @LMS and “fecis”. I think it should be submitted to the OED for inclusion.

Lastly, as the daughter of a genealogist I would like to comment on ROYAL BLOOD. The gift of that kind of connection isn’t snobbery. It is the fact that (typically) royals, peers, feudal lords, etc. have their lineage documented back hundreds (thousands?) of years. Finding a connection like that is HUGE. Most of us aren’t so lucky and even getting back a couple of hundred years is a real achievement.

jb129 11:31 AM  

Please never again.... a Word ladder!

cwf 11:32 AM  

An increased risk of hemophilia is "nice"?

Tim Aurthur 11:35 AM  

"Not all kings are Caucasian, Rex."

- King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun of Thailand.

Wm. C. 11:35 AM  

A bit more about Harvard's ethnic diversity: ---

Two days ago Harvard's president Drew Faust sent an email letter to Harvard alumni/ae, alter ting them to the fact that an organization called Students for Fair Admissions, formed mainly to oppose Harvard's commitment to diversity, was bring a lawsuit for this purpose.

Presumably, the major thrust of the lawsuit would be to remove ethnicity as a piece of admissions.consideration. Or at least Asian ethnicity, since as I mentioned in my above post, Asians -- though greatly over-represented at Harvard as compared to their percentage of the US population -- are under-represented as compared to their overall qualifications.

Presumably the lawsuit will be limited to Asian admissions.

abalani500 11:44 AM  

THIS was a THIN concept that made me want to kick the constructor in the SHIN. Bottom line, it was SHIT.

Masked and Anonymous 11:47 AM  

16x15 grid; 81 words; more ladder for yer money!

I guess a word ladder that makes a layover theme stop in the middle is slightly unusual. Maybe not ThursPuz-level unusual, but at least genteelly different. Sooo … ThursPuz golf clap.

I got no hate in m&e, for any breed of crossword puzs. Just don't pushit [that's parsed push-it], with PEWIT.

staff weeject pick: VSO. Nice weeject stacks, in the NE & SW, btw. NE also had some real nice desperation, what with TVVCR/AISHA/TABLETPC. TVVCR has U-know-who Usage Immunity, tho. (!)
Honrable mention to IOmoreU.

Thanx, Mr. Krozel.
Yer official "Oh No" list has been duly updated, @RP.

Masked & Anonymo1U

newspaperguy 12:05 PM  

I vote for Loren Muse Smith to take over this blog. She is always interesting.

Wm. C. 12:18 PM  

OK, I see from posts above that the post I was commenting on that referred to "classism" is not focusing on race. Someone help me, though: explain what "classism" is, as it relates to admissions at elite universities.

Liz T. 12:20 PM  

I like word ladders but not in crosswords. Either they're disgustingly unclued, as in today's, or they're clued so the ladder part is pointless. And to have unnecessary rungs like that! Horrible.

RAD made me angry. "Updated," sure.

kitshef 12:25 PM  

Since everyone loves word ladders so much, I came up with this one:

Amelia 12:41 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 12:53 PM  

TBH, the OWLET bothered me more than anything. I’d venture to say there are very, very few OWL farms out there, or even farms with Owls, except as completely incidentally. Clue as ‘Wise youngster?’ or something like that.

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

Amelia's husband won't be celebrating his birthday until 2025.

Masked and Anonymous 1:00 PM  

@kitshef: har! re: PARKER-CHOKES-SHORTZ ladder: Primo stuff! Looks like a real challengin 16x15 grid to construct -- just sayin.

This whole Puz Quality dealy could be one of them self-full-fillin prophecies, I reckon.
Consider this puz constructioneerin ladder ...

1. NYTimes Puz achieves a stellar rep. They also pay about as high as anyone else.
2. Lotsa people wanna get their puz published there.
3. They spend mountains of their precious life nanoseconds, makin as good a puz as possible.
4. Their puz gets splatzed into a pool of 100-200 other submitted puzs, for that week.
5. Most of the puzs get regrets-ed, after waitin a coupla months+ to hear that it didn't tickle somebody enough. This is predictable, since they can only use about 7 tickly puzs per week.
6. Realizin that their odds of acceptance may be way north of 10-1, constructors continue to try to make good puz submissions, but sorta rein things back in a little, on the time spent polishin up their puz. Otherwise, they're only gettin paid a net of 2 cents per hour.
7. Eventually a puz gets accepted. "Gee … wish I'da spent a little more time polishin that one," the constructioneer may thenafter lament.
8. @RP tears up the puz in his blog.
9. Constructioneer vows to do better, next time.
10. Repeat steps #3-10.
11. NYTimes, hoping for better puzquality, raises amount paid for a puz to $1 jillion dollars. Many more people wanna get their NYTPuz published. Go to step #2, but increase acceptance odds to 1000-1.

M&A Quality Control Desk

Malsdemare 1:00 PM  

@anonymous 12:53. The clue was Barn youngster. Barn owls, and their young, live in barns, among other places.

JC66 1:02 PM  

I'm agnostic about word ladders and look forward to @Will publishing a "step quote" puzzle someday soon. But on days like today, I can't help wondering if @Rex is being serious or just pulling our leg(s). I sorta suspect (and hope) it's the latter.

Thank goodness we can count on @LMS and @Lewis, to be consistently upbeat.

Who puts the twit in twitter 1:06 PM  

For the Twitteriditorati who like to make bold statements about what everyone doesn't like and punch the message home with the decorative "fuck," good for you! There's nothing like a self-deluding sense of superiority to help you think you make a positive difference in the world. It's almost Trumplike.

J.J. Audubon 1:06 PM  

@Anonymous - The guy who named Barn Owls as such might be surprised that they are rarely found around barns.

Jamie 1:13 PM  

I'm sorry but this was a slog, dreary and boring. On the plus side, it drove to to sign up for the AV xword.

Anonymous 1:16 PM  

You're hung up on admissions. Its not about that. Its about the elite universities all comprising the he well to do. Sure, they have grants in aid, and scholarships etc, for a small fraction of truly needy students, but by and large the big time schools are becoming a place where the very successful send their very privileged children. And it's getting more and more homogeneous in that regard (meaning big wealth and high class/status). Check out any of the IVY alumni mags. They all run an ad for "date an Ivy" meaning just what it says. Time was when Ivy league grads might marry a girl from say, Smith ( Hi Nancy) or Vassar, or Radcliffe but he was equally likely to marry a girl from the department store, or his high school home room. That's no longer the case. Those who attend fancy, read elite, schools only hunt in their own pool. That's why the phenomenon is increasing. This is not news, and it's not even a question. It's a long settled fact. The only debate is whether its deleterious to society.

Kimberly 1:20 PM  

I don’t hate word ladders, bit I can only roll my eyes when they’re done this badly. Circling back around is more of a hamster wheel than a ladder. Or maybe a circle jerk, which really isn’t an apt analogy at all except it has the word “circle” in it and sounds somehow angry despite the horrifying imaginary visuals of the reality of such a thing. Plus, unless you’re eight years old or someone who would participate in a circle jerk, the should be a minimum of five letters in each word and they should be clued cleverly.

Anonymous 1:24 PM  

Hey Audubon,

It's true that barn owls nest in a variety of places. but barns are in fact a favorite. I'm guessing you don't live in an agricultural setting. In Pa, barn owls use barns at a great rate. (check the PA. game commission website for details).
In NJ, barns are getting harder to come by, and so, none of the current roots and or nest sites that I know are barns. But come on, it's demonstrably untrue to say they're rarely found around barns.

If you're a birder within 100 miles of DC, what would you call the structure next to the Allee house in Bombay Hook? if it aint barn technically, it could sure pass for one.

Foamfollower 1:24 PM  

Wow, and Johnny Bench to boot! Kudos...

Unknown 1:51 PM  

I've been doing crosswords for about six months, and I don't have the time to do it every day. I don't have the experience or breadth of crosswordese knowledge to anticipate answers like Rex can, but I can safely anticipate answers in a word ladder. That helps me take better guesses at the crosses and builds up not only my experience, but confidence in crosswording. Please remember that someone new is picking up this hobby every single day, and while I don't believe this is a Thursday level puzzle, it is still a good puzzle.

Foamfollower 1:54 PM  

I’ll signify nothing as I have a few.
The proliferation of ancestral websites (and the impetus of my grandmother’s musty old unsubmitted DAR application), makes finding even just a drop of royal blood in one’s veins simple; even simpler is finding ancestral ties to New World colonists. Thanks to indentured servitude and John Beauchamp’s (10th great grandfather) adventurous London Merchant status and financing of the Plymouth colonists and their little ships, I can demand membership in most any pre-United States genealogical organization. In fact, my screen name honoree, William Coddington (5th great grandfather) fought in the Revolutionary War for the Ulster County milita.
So what? So what, nothing. Is a little ancestor worship disqualifying? It hardly makes me a racist in spite of my “geezer white“ complexion!
I married an Italian after all. That’s a joke, son.

The subject of choke collars should not be confined to poor, helpless dogs and such, or is the “variety of sexual experience” also verboten on this most PC of blogs? And before you get your Pollyanna ire up, I am perfectly aware that even consensual/recreational choking is fraught with danger. Achingly aware. ;)

Foamfollower 1:59 PM  


Anoa Bob 2:07 PM  

I'm seeing a subtheme here on how to spell the plural of LETTERUS, IVANUS and HEMUS.

If you pay the big bucks to subscribe to the NYT puzz, you also get access to the archives. It's down at the bottom of the puzzle page, on the left I believe. Clicking on it brings up a calendar window where you can choose any puzzle from the last 20 or so years. If you didn't cotton to today's offering, for instance, you could compare and contrast it to a Thursday from, say, June, 2008. Interesting exercise, methinks, for looking into the "NYT xword puzzles ain't what they used to be" issue.

Clay 2:14 PM  

First, my condolences to Rex for the deteriorating quality of the NYT puzzles. For all these years he's been blogging about the once-great NYT puzzles, and here they are rotting out from underneath him. Rex: maybe you should change your blog to dealing with the best puzzle of the day, regardless of source? You've turned me on to many good alternate puzzles. You could do BEQ on Mondays and Thursdays.

Second, I too was put off by the word ladder (1) having no "real" clues, and (2) changing the last L to an M and then back again. That just seemed wrong (and lazy).

I learned about mens rea in law school, but that was many decades ago. But all that old legal Latin isn't used as much any more. For example res judicata is now claim preclusion.

Finally, I agree that the quality could improve if the NYT started paying more for their puzzles. Particularly true since you have to pay separately for the puzzles even if you are NYT subscriber, so they have the money to do it.

In our current political climate, thank goodness the rest of the NYT isn't going the same direction as the puzzles.

oldbizmark 2:18 PM  


I am starting the hate this puzzle as much as I hate the NYTs coverage of the Middle East.

Wm. C. 2:24 PM  

@Anon1:16 --

A few facts about aid at so-called "elite" US universities, still using Harvard as an example ...

While you say that they give aid to "...a small fraction of truly needy students". Fact: 50% of undergrads receive need-based scholarships. Fact: 20% of them come from families with incomes of less than $65,000 and pay nothing for tuition, room, board, fees, and books.

"Time was when an Ivy League grad might marry a girl from say .... Radcliffe." Ahem! A Radcliffe grad IS an Ivy League grad. And by the way, don't call them "girls." ;-)

Banana Diaquiri 2:31 PM  

In our current political climate, thank goodness the rest of the NYT isn't going the same direction as the puzzles.

recall the likelihood that your Xword $$$ are going to pay those Pulitzer Prize reporters. let's not get to parochial. which would you rather: "better" puzzles or Peter Baker, et al?????

Passing Shot 2:32 PM  

I should never, EVER, read Loren Muse Smith (@4:43) while drinking coffee.

Nothing to add; this was below even the Times' usual low standard.

Masked and Anonymous 2:51 PM  

@Anoa Bob: re: NYTPuzs ain't what they used to be: yep, in that…

* Back then, a lotta the theme ideas hadn't already been used to death, so they seemed more "fresh".
* Ditto, on the grid vocab and clues.
* Some of the current-events vocab didn't hold up real well, over time.
* Like the old models. Like the new ones now, too.
* Whatever. I still miss Manny Nosowsky, tho.

Peace on earth, good will toward the constructioneers who just luv to keep on makin us crossword puzs, no matter what.


Junief 2:57 PM  

Thanks! Loved the moist owlet and all the others!

GILL I. 3:03 PM  

I'd do one from CACA to PEDO but I'm afraid no one would get it.....

mathgent 3:09 PM  

Today's puzzle had two graduates of San Francisco's Ruth Asawa School of the Arts, Margaret Cho and Aisha Tyler. It is a public school which offers classes in almost all of the performing arts. Sam Rockwell, who won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar last year, is another grad.

@kitshef (12:25): Wonderful!

Anonymous 3:10 PM  

You know full well that when I said "time was" I was referring to the fact that for most of its history Radcliffe was a sister school to Harvard. You're a punk or a fool if you didn't get that. And of course , if they're at Radcliffe, they're girls. College girls in fact. Better yet, coeds. Don't like the term? Tough.

ZenMonkey 3:11 PM  

Sorry if this was covered but that was a lot to skim.

To the person who pointed out Will Shortz's cameo in that episode of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, the episode was called "Puzzle Master". This is a callback to a much earlier episode where Amy tells Captain Holt that someone didn't know who Shortz was on sight. Holt stares at her a moment, then asks incredulously, "He didn't recognize the Puzzle Master???"

There is also a gorgeous moment during Jake and Amy's wedding planning where he asks whether the bouquets can be wrapped in crossword puzzles from important days in their relationship (something he doesn't care about but knows Amy would adore). I suspect some writer and/or producer is a NYT crossword fan.

Wm. C. 3:31 PM  

hey, @Anon3:10 --

You said "...time was when an Ivy League GRAD might marry a GIRL from, say, ...Radcliffe."

Well, an Ivy League GRAD is almost certainly 22 years old or older, and is statistically unlikely to marry a young woman who requires his living in the Cambridge area due to her presence at Radcliffe, so she would almost certainly be 22 or older also. And, btw, young woman over the age of 18 certainly don't want to be referred to as "girls" in any formal sense.

Banana Diaquiri 3:37 PM  


it's also true that many years before full merge, Cliffies and Yarders took classes with the Opposite Sex.

"As late as the 1930s Harvard president A. Lawrence Lowell still took a dim view of Radcliffe, maintaining that the time Harvard professors spent providing lectures to women distracted the faculty from their scholarship, and providing Radcliffe women access to research facilities and Harvard museums was – in his view – an unnecessary burden on the university's resources. He threatened to scuttle the relationship between the two institutions. "
the wiki.

Anonymous 3:57 PM  

I know.

Aketi 4:00 PM  

@Mohair Sam, I have met two princesses in my life. Neither were white. I studied public health with the princess from Nigeria and went out dancing with her from time to time. She taught me to lcheck out men’s shoes to determine if they were marriage potential. The other was the Princess of Thailand who came to an event to promote interventions for mucronutrient malnutrition. They may have been “elite” but both contributed to public health.

Ha, as for my background, it’s the scalawags not the ROYALs that I find most interesting. My sister managed to track back through our great, great, great (and maybe one my great) grandfather orphan who popped up in Ottawa after leaving Ireland in some era of potato famine, to our deeper roots in Scotland. The Irish orphan managed to work his way up from poverty by marrying the richest girl in town, but he was a drunk who would sometimes get so deep in his cups that he’d descend into drunken rants about some battle that had occurred in Ireland 200 years before his birth. Apparently his anscestors go back to a clan that seemed pretty similar to the Lanisters in the Game of Thones. They were once held in high esteem by the British ROYALs but their bad behavior (mostly steeling women from other clans and killing the men) turned them into outcasts.

@kischef, I too loved your PARKER CHOKES SHORTZ ladder.
@M&A, I thought you might add , SNORTZ to that chain.

@LMS, I knew you would find something to amuse us with from the puzzle and once again you did not disappoint.

In BJJ we practice what are lknown as COLLAR CHOKES using the COLLAR of the Gi for grips. These chokes actually can sometimes be helpful for self defense in some situations. No, it wouldn’t work in every situation but....

Given that I often do get close to being CHOKEd every morning, I do feel bad for dogs who are quickly jerked with a CHOKE COLLAR. Unlike dogs, I get to tap to tell my ROLLing partners to stop before it gets too uncomfortable and my partners do it slowly. @Malsedemere, on the other hand my sister has a German Shepard that has yanked her almost to her knees on more than one ocassion so I can see the appeal. I don’t think she has resorted to a CHOKE COLLAR yet.

@Anonymous 1:16 pm, I beg to differ. It is not a tiny proportion that are on financial aid. I threw out all the packages from the college tours but it was well over 50%. I was pleasantly surprised that we pay less for our son to go to an Ivy League than we would have paid for SUNY Binghamton. I went to grad school for free.

@William C, the denominator is NOT the entire US population, the denominator is the college age population. Not many old people apply to college. The article below article shows that in 2015 Caucasians and Asians were overrepresented and Latinos and African Americans were underrepresented at elite colleges in terms of their proportion in the general college age population.

“Black students make up 9 percent of the freshmen at Ivy League schools but 15 percent of college-age Americans, roughly the same gap as in 1980”.

The graph for Harvard shows an 8% enrollment rate for blacks in 2015 and states that the college age population of blacks was 15%. Harvard’s website shows that the they enrolled 14.6% which makes it close to the college age population. Cornell didn’t break it down, they just had “underrepresented minorities US” and “other minorities US” which didn’t really increase that much from 2015.

Anonymous 4:03 PM  

What formal sense? this is a crossword blog, not Buckingham palace.
Besides, what's wrong with girl? Ever heard the phrase the girl of your dreams. Look, this is the mountain to die on. The seven sister schools to the Ivies have a long and honorable tradition. nothing disrespectful in calling the students there girls. For they are girls. At least mostly. Hell, even insurance companies recognize that for all intents and purpose adulthood isn't reached until the mid 20s. That why 27 is the cutoff age for carrying a kid, girl or boy, on your policy.

I'll be able to buy and sell all of you 4:12 PM  

Speaking of ROYAL BLOOD, I just got a really exciting email from a Nigerian Prince who is going to make me rich rich RICH!!

Anonymous 4:20 PM  

Oh geez, now we have to worry about people being “fake-woke.” What is this, the Bizarro world? (“Him not real-woke. Him fake-woke.”)

I’m heading straight to my safe space so I can process this. (Wait. What if my safe space is a fake safe space?)

GILL I. 4:41 PM  

I knew today's puzzle would bring out the best (and worst) of comments.
Thank you JK and thank you @Nancy for Smith and @Loren for fecis.

Blue Stater 4:57 PM  

Just appalling, for reasons already stated above and in abundance. WS is just not paying attention. Is anyone?

Monty Boy 5:02 PM  

I liked this puzzle; a puzzle (word ladder) inside a puzzle is a bonus for me. With a 4 letter word ladder, having clues would make it way too easy. My challenge was having only the 3rd word and the 6th word and figuring what letters changed between.

Then I came to comments and found out I shouldn't like it. And again, @LMS showed the way. If you like words, this was a good puzzle.(IMHO). Also, add my vote for @LMS for blogger. In fact, for me, she is the blogger and big reason why I come here and read all the comments.

Nancy 5:14 PM  

@kitshef (12:25) -- What an absolutely inspired word ladder!!!

@Aketi (4:00) -- So exactly what should I be looking for in men's shoes? How clean they are? How polished they are? How dressy they are? Somehow I've managed to get to my advanced age without once hearing this particular piece of advice. Please tell me, @Aketi; I'm all ears.

Z 5:15 PM  

@JC66 - Don’t even joke about it.

@Word Ladder Purists - This is actually two word ladders, ROLL -> CALL -> VOTE, so your short ROLL, role, vole, VOTE doesn’t cut it.

Finally, one way to define racism is the belief that characteristics and abilities can be attributed to people simply on the basis of their race and that some racial groups are superior to others. Is it really all that hard to see how the notion of a “royal family,” the belief that the right to rule can be attributed to people simply on the basis of their ROYAL BLOOD making them superior to others, is the same thing in essence? BTW - I specifically chose the link I did because, while each country’s racism tends to be unique to that culture, racism is a global phenomenon. Even victims will fall into the “authenticity” version of racism. Is she black enough? Indian enough? Native American enough? Feminist enough? Yep, we do love creating our purity tests and otherizing people we deem not worthy.

Anonymous 5:29 PM  

Max Bentovim--Bravo, Sir! A beautiful takedown of all three of my least-favorite clues in this gigantic pile of puzzle crap. Aside from the word ladder clues, of course.

Aketi 5:59 PM  

@Nancy, all of the above. I really showed my lower middle class roots because I always went for the guys with the bad shoes. She’d shake her head and whisper, look down. My psychologist husband would be a complete and total fail in her eyes because he hardly ever manages to tie his shoes which are black sneakers that he wears with his suits because his feet hurt. But most psychologists I’ve met would not meet the Princess’ standards either.

JC66 6:33 PM  


I wasn't joking. Once every 5 years or so would work for me...on a Sunday.

Anonymous 6:42 PM  

I was imprecise. Of course many ivies get aid. But few are from the bottom of the socioeconoic rung of the ladder. And respectfully, Aketi,(for example) youre making my point for me. You married a guy w a PhD.come on.
Haves and elites,(swells) are defacto segregated. They go to the same plays, read the same books, vacation at the same beaches, share the same zip codes. Regardless of what Harvards admission office trumpets, look around your neighborhood and sigh.its homogeneous.(unless, like aketi, ylu live in a massive metro area...and even then....)
Thats the larger, and frankly, more important point. You know this. Why are you fighting it? You made it. Rejoice. If youre decent, and I know tou all are, share.
Some ivy league hack (old fashioned but not a racist, or classist)

Nancy 7:01 PM  

@Aketi (4:00 and 5:59)-- And he's turned out to be a good husband all the same, right? Leading me to ask: What do princesses know, anyway?

JC66 9:02 PM  


Was the princess checking out the shoes or the size? ;-)

Aketi 12:38 AM  

@Nancy, I still liked her even though she was a princess and we had utterly different taste in men. What @Anon 6:42 pm doesn’t realize is that I was just as happy hanging out with the market women in the middle of the what was then Zaire. My son laughs at me when I strike up conversations wth shop owners and taxi drivers and people on the subway and building supers and police officers and firefighters and says “Mom you’ll talk to just about anyone.” But he actually is the same way. I think it’s because he did grow up in an area of New York where he had access to good schools that still had a really good mix of income levels. Each one of his schools was technically majority minority. Yet each one had a different ethics mix. More African American and Hispanic in the first two elementary and high school and mostly Asian in high school. I was actually shocked at the thinly veiled animosity expressed by some of the parents towards the latter. There is this notion among some that Asian culture is homogenous, but there was a huge amount of diversity in income level, status and culture in his high school. Truthfully, I would find it boring if I always talked to the same kind of people all the time.

Clay 10:21 AM  

Just saw Banana Diaquiri's comment about my puzzle subscription going to pay for the NYT reporters. HOWEVER, I already pay SEPARATELY for my subscription to the NYT editorial and news content: $20 per month. The puzzles are extra! And if they really need the puzzle income to pay their reporters, they are in worse trouble than I thought!

Cinder 7:55 PM  

Yup, this puzzle sucked.

Anonymous 9:41 PM  

as an nonagenerian my memory is not so great- but I do enjoy doing puzzles- and am so grateful to Rex for helping me each day with the Times Puzzles - especially like the his comments about the works thanks Rita

Jtull 8:54 AM  

Amend=add to

thefogman 10:19 AM  

I'm not going to jump on the word-ladder-hate bandwagon because it's too crowded and it's going to erupt into a MELEE SOONAS the BOOze kicks in. I finished this one in near record time with only one erasure: (Tellon before TATTLE). Not much to love in this one, and it's hard to figure out the MENSREA behind this little crime, but IMOK with it anyways.

Diana,LIW 11:52 AM  

I'm kinda, sorta, in a way with @Foggy on the ladder. I mean, my heart did sink a bit at the clue for 1A. But tis what tis.

So...I decided to let the ladder help me - to actually use it for the solve. As if it were fun. As. If.

Fun. Well, it truly did beat a sharp stick in the eye, as I am wont to say. So I attempted to focus on the other words. Not the ladder. But @Rex points out some of my dislikes - the LEAP, the COLLAR, the BLOOD, you get the AERIALPHOTO.

My f-I-l's hobby was genealogy, which can be kind of interesting. But more for what one's ancestors did than for their royalness, etc. I'm a lady only because I AM a lady.

as ever

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Burma Shave 11:55 AM  


I hope the LETTERI sent won’t RILE or a PALL her;
I’MOK with the MALE ‘cuz I’M a CHOKECOLLAR.
As SOONAS we can, we’ll ROLL it ALLOUT on a date,
APRIL and I in my VAN, to LOVER’SLEAP where we’ll MATE.


spacecraft 11:56 AM  

DNBTF. Seldom have I seen such a garbage-laden grid. It's all been said; the coup de (un-)grace for me is the ampersandwich. I agree with the guy who said this should never have seen the light of day.

Diana,LIW 12:00 PM  

Oh - @Rex didn't mention the LETTERI. So I shall. This does not make this puzzle more alluring. If I HADST my druthers, LETTERI would not appear with IVANI and DANDD in the same puzzle with all the aforementioned...stuff.

Poor WARHOL must feel quite alone.

Lady Di

leftcoastTAM 1:41 PM  

Very clever word-ladder puzzle, and fun to get step-by-step, letter-by-letter.

Hard part was parsing the middle letter changes, where WARHOL and WILLEM had to be identified and ACACIA and ALTAIR helped by crosses. Elsewhere, in the NE, with AISHA and TABLETPC required some crossing help.

ROLL CALL VOTE lights blinked on, providing a satisfying "aha" at the end.

rainforest 3:19 PM  

If I see the phrase "word ladder", I neither clap with glee, nor egest my breakfast. A puzzle within a puzzle; actually, two puzzles within a third.

Like @Lady Di, I flitted around, using the fill to get part of the ladder, and vice versa. I found it fun.

I admire Joe Krozel's approach to puzzle construction, seemingly to be always looking for something different. I think this was an admirable effort. Overall, easy-medium.

rondo 4:06 PM  

As SOONAS I saw the 1a clue I audibly groaned; I’d rather have a rebus. But I won’t complain about ROYALBLOOD or LOVERSLEAP. The rest was SEMIARID.

I tried law school in 2005-06. That $12,000 per semester – part-time - really paid off today with MENSREA.

IMOK with naming AISHA Tyler as a yeah baby.

Have to agree it’s a long way to go to get a ROLL CALL VOTE, but when all of your 4 letter across answers are in the theme, that’s not nothing.

thefogman 6:38 PM  

CERTS. (Two...Click! Two...Click!) Two mints in one.
Word ladder. (Two...Click! Two...Click!) puzzles in one.

@D,LIW: Royal or not, there's no denying you are a lady...

strayling 7:49 PM  

Not the most exciting puzzle I've done, but it spurred me to read about Nice. Much ROYAL BLOOD was spilled there. I doubt that was the compiler's intended meaning, but I'll grant him plausible deniability.

thefogman 9:18 PM  


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