Regatta site since 1839 / SUN 7-8-18 / Godfather mobster who was shot in eye / 1960s it girl Sedgwick / Longtime Inside NBA analyst / Perelman classic Russian science writer

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Constructor: Bruce Haight

Relative difficulty: Easy (9:34)

THEME: Person / Place / Thing — theme answers are three interlocking two-word phrases, first a person then blah blah you know the drill

Theme answers:
  • AL GREEN BAY WINDOW (23A: Singer / City / Home feature)
  • PARIS HILTON HEAD SHOP (36A: Socialite / Resort / Store)
  • OLIVER NORTH POLE DANCE (52A: Political commentator / Geographical area / Fitness routine)
  • SEAN PENN STATION BREAK (75A: Acgtor / Transportaion hub / Part of a broadcast)
  • RICH LITTLE ROCK MUSIC (91A: Comedian / State capital / Record store section)
  • MAE WEST BANK HEIST (109A: Actress / Mideast area / Crime)
Word of the Day: HENLEY (92D: Regatta site since 1839) —
Henley Royal Regatta (or Henley Regatta, its original name pre-dating Royal patronage) is a rowing event held annually on the River Thames by the town of Henley-on-ThamesEngland. It was established on 26 March 1839. It differs from the three other regattas rowed over approximately the same course, Henley Women's Regatta, Henley Masters Regatta and Henley Town and Visitors' Regatta, each of which is an entirely separate event.
The regatta lasts for five days (Wednesday to Sunday) ending on the first weekend in July. Races are head-to-head knock out competitions, raced over a course of 1 mile, 550 yards (2,112 m).[1] The regatta regularly attracts international crews to race. The most prestigious event at the regatta is the Grand Challenge Cup for Men's Eights, which has been awarded since the regatta was first staged. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is an objectively bad puzzle. More accurately, it's an objectively 30-year-old concept that plays like a parody of a tired theme type. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've heard multiple constructors over the years use this exact theme type (the before-and-after theme type) as a paradigmatic example of Tired Themes. You can tell that the puzzle is just shrugging at you by the title and the theme clues—there's not even an attempt to be clever or interesting or funny or anything. The very fact that this was accepted ... it feels almost contemptuous of the solver. "We're giving you NOTHING. See you next week." Meanwhile, RICH LITTLE ROCK MUSIC! Wow, sure, yeah, more of that. BETTY WHITE HOUSE MUSIC. KAREN BLACK SEA SHANTY. Are we having fun yet? This is the kind of puzzle that helps maintain the image of puzzles as just a cute diversion. A bastion of quaintness. D-grade word play and a lot of crosswordese and trivia. How do you have a grid this big and Not One non-theme answer longer than seven letters? How. Maybe I'll check EHOW just kidding who even uses that site??! (15A: Popular self-help website)

The weirdest thing about solving today was that I felt like I was strugggggggggling ... and then posted my fastest time in months. That tells you something about how unpleasant I found this. Even 9 and half minutes felt like a trek. I kept having to work around fussy ambiguous stuff, like, is it THUMP or WHUMP (10A: Heavy hit), and what kind of [Carnival performer] is being asked for ... Oh, GEEK, really? How ... pleasant. The "?" clues also held me up a bunch, or seemed to. Most of those failed to land, for me. [Make a good point?] is SCORE? Isn't that just ... [Make a point?]. I get that there's misdirection there, but the "good" does nothing *but* misdirect, and does so by making the connection to the actual answer (SCORE) pretty strained. Then there's 3D: Take a few pointers? Loving dogs as I do, and dogsitting as I am this weekend, I wrote in DOGSIT, and thought, "well, that's nice. Good clue!" But then the answer was DOGNAP. How ... pleasant. And Oliver North is just a "political commentator" now? What a world.

I need not to be talking about this puzzle any more, this puzzle, which embodies everything tired and sad and moribund about NYT Sundays over the past several years. Again, I don't see how this was ever accepted. I sincerely don't. There's not enough here. There's not a great title, and there aren't even *good* clues. The rest of the grid holds almost zero interest, primarily because there are no longer answers. But it's easy. People like easy, right? OK, bye.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Please enjoy this lovely story about veteran crossword constructor and kind human being Andrea Carla Michaels

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anon 12:17 AM  

POLEDANCE is a fitness routine? Are strippers athletes?

mmorgan 12:35 AM  

I don't time myself but this felt like it took about 47 seconds. Agree with Rex about Oliver North but I actually think there's some useful stuff on eHow. Also expected DOGsit, though I never put wrote it in. This is the kind of puzzle that makes me wonder if the puzzles have really changed over the years (40 years ago, doing the Sunday puzzle was a week-long effort) or if I've just gotten better at them. Of course, both may be true. The Norma Desmond Syndrome?

Harryp 12:35 AM  

So the Southwest corner slowed me for a while, but this was a Medium Sunday solve. I usually have problems with @Z's PPP, and this had more than its share, because that was a big part of the Theme. Altogether, a satisfying solve. I used the adjective so to explain my take on the puzzle because everyone must have noticed that the current crop of TV news people and explainers invariably start their sentences with it, and I must be au courant. Another bugbear of mine is the word impacted. It is used in all situations and grates on my ears. Wish they would get a Thesaurus.

Harryp 12:45 AM  

Hope I said so is an adverb. If not this is my correction.

BBPDX 12:57 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bruce Haight 1:21 AM  

Actually my first submission of this theme got rejected because it had entries like BettyWhiteHouseMusic and KarenBlackSeaShanty. The editing team insisted that the meaning of the words change from "person" to "place" and from "place" to "thing". HOUSE changes slightly maybe, but SEA doesn't change meaning at all in that example. Word chain themes have been done before, but I don't know that the person/place/thing theme has ever been done.

JOHN X 2:19 AM  

I thought this was a pretty good puzzle. Who cares if it's been done before - I can solve any puzzle any time any place, even if lives are at stake. It doesn't matter to JOHN X.

I guess the only thing worse than calling Oliver North a "political commenter" is calling Rich Little a "comedian" because that guy was never funny. Sean Penn is a good actor I guess but wow is he a truly terrible writer.

Now GEEK was the best clue/answer combination, hands down. That's what a true GEEK is, a carnival performer, not some Star Trek fanboy. Remember when Coney Island had the "Shoot The Geek" attraction on the boardwalk, and you could shoot a geek with a paintball gun, and the geek would run and jump and hide and use his shield and the barker would egg everything on over the loudspeaker, and that geek would just get splatted with paint and wish he was somewhere else reading a book? It was great. I think it was technically called "Shoot The Freak" but everyone knew that it was a geek out there.

There's only one YAKOV in my book and it's SMIRNOFF, like the vodka I pour on my Frosted Flakes every morning. Back in the 70s when they were starting out at the Comedy Store in West Hollywood, Yakov Smirnoff was roommates with Andrew Dice Clay. It's true! Can you imagine that? What a country!

Bruce Haight is my favorite constructor because I love reading the Rex meltdown post that follows. Oh, snap!

Anonymous 2:40 AM  

That was deeply unpleasant.

chefwen 2:44 AM  

Well, I did like that my husbands home town was in there. GO PACKERS!

I liked it more than Rex, but not by much.

Anonymous 2:45 AM  

You hand in your ticket and you go watch the geek
Who immediately walks up to you when he hears you speak
And says, "How does it feel to be such a freak?"
And you say, "Impossible!" as he hands you a bone
And something is happening here but you don't know what it is
Do you, Mr. Jones?

Unknown 4:01 AM  

Looks like Rex has a hangover. Seemed like an OK Sunday to me. I do not have PTSD after seeing the words DOGNAP or OLIVERNORTH in a puzzle. Maybe I'm just too callous? Btw - HILTONHEAD rules! So that clue alone made me like the puzzle.

'mericans in Paris 5:39 AM  

EGAD! I like @Rex's write-up. Whereas I cringed at the slash-fest in the puzzle itself, OFL managed to write a whole review without resorting to the punctuation mark for all seasons even once.

I, too, wasn't keen on the theme answers, but if you pretend they don't contain place names, some of them are funny to imagine: a HEAD SHOP run by PARIS HILTON; OLIVER NORTH doing a POLE DANCE (no doubt while packing heat); and MAE WEST orchestrating a BANK HEIST.

The latter reminded me of my dissolute years in the second half of the 1970s, when I made 100 skydiving jumps. Incomplete or bad deployments of the main parachute do happen (which is why one carries a reserve 'chute). At the time, square and rectangular parachutes were not yet the norm, and I "pounded a round". The technical name used for a particular form of mis-deployment -- when one of the parachute lines loops over the center of the canopy itself, creating two mounds, as it were -- was a MAE WEST.

As for the fill, it definitely didn't sparkle. There was, for one (not BH's fault) the unfortunate repeat of TAN only two days after it appeared, with a similar clue. ALPE just down the coast from an answer (61A) clued as "Alpo alternative". And loads of other WHATNOT.

THIS puzzle also felt like an exercise in corporate placements, with EHOW, HILTON, SKOAL (a brand of dipping tobacco, or "moist snuff"), CBS, ABSOLUT, OMNI, SONY, KAY (a jewelry company), ELLE, HYATT, and CLAN (short for CLAN Campbell, a brand of inexpensive whisky).

I did learn, though, that they were the Keystone KOPs, not the KEYSTONE cOPs, so there's that.

Off to get in some steps while listening to some of my favorite PODCASTs.

Lewis 6:16 AM  


The person/pace/thing title/concept was clever, and it was fun to try to figure the theme answers with very little filled in -- my brain loves things like that. And then trying to make up new theme answers, like BUDDYHOLLYWOODSTOVE.

Lewis 6:27 AM  

And two more things. First, as I said yesterday, funny how taste differs among people: I loved the clue for DOGNAP. And second, Caitlin Lovinger at WordPlay thought the clue for TIEDYE -- "1960s Haight-Ashbury wear" -- was an Easter egg self-referential bit by the constructor Bruce, that fit right in with the theme. Good catch, Caitlin, and if it is true, good one, Bruce!

Anonymous 6:31 AM  

The puzzle was a pleasant diversion. I also enjoyed figuring out the person/place/thing. It is not a memorable puzzle by any means but decent for a Sunday.

Rob 6:48 AM  

Like clockwork, Bruce Haight has a puzzle published and Rex trashes it. Every time.

Aketi 7:39 AM  

@Anon 12:17am, yes, POLE DANCE exercise classes have been a thing for a while at least in NYC.

So of course there are a zillion YouTube clips of POLE DANCE fails.

pkelly 7:47 AM  

And Oliver North is just a "political commentator" now? What a world, indeed. Gave me a bad taste in my mouth. What ever happened to "war criminal."

Hungry Mother 7:48 AM  

Easy timewise, but it felt like a slog. I’m so-so at doing themes like this, but it didn’t really move along the solve. The three letter athelete (Ott, ORR, Els) took longer than it should have, not much else to talk about in this one.

ncmathsadist 8:07 AM  

This was a singularly unpleasant slog.

Z 8:08 AM  

Hey Hey Hey, @Harryp, I just count them. They're not mine.

When 66% of each themer is PPP (that's Pop Culture, Product Names, and other Proper Nouns for you novitiates - more than 33% is the level where "wheelhouse v outhouse" develops) it's almost pointless to count them up. Look at the top three lines, for example. 56 squares, 35 are PPP in at least one direction. The short answers make it seem less PPP heavy, but it will feel like 63% in areas. Sure, there is some currency with APU and Idris ELBA. But there are also a whole heck of a lot of dead people from the mid-20th century in the puzzle. Just a reminder to constructors and Shortz, the 20th century ended nearly two decades ago. MAE WEST died four decades ago, EDIE Sedgwick five. EDIE Falco anyone?

Anonymous 8:14 AM  

I liked it! And I learned something new and useful: Now I can tell my wife I am going to the gym when I am off to see a pole dancer.

FLAC 8:19 AM  

Glad to see Bruce Haight’s response.

Department of Pedantry: It’s sea chantey, not shanty (unless you’re describing an oceanside shack).

Unknown 8:25 AM  

At what point can we just let the puzzle themes be puzzle themes? Not every theme has to be revolutionary. Do we need 365 completely fresh and original puzzles every year? Impossible. Can’t we just accept the puzzle for the life diversion that it’s meant to be?

pmdm 8:26 AM  

When you like a theme, the theme never grows old. When you don't like a theme, it grows old very fast. I guess the same applies to Mr. Sharp's carping. 'Nuff said.

My reaction is that I don't care that much about themes. I care more about the entries themselves. PPP? Thumbs down for me. Newfangled slang? Thumbs down for me. For those who like that stuff? Enjoy.

To address this puzzle specifically, I would say I'm middle of the road, which is usual for me when one of Bruce's puzzles is involved.

Andrew Heinegg 8:33 AM  

I thought the puzzle was passable. I am a Bruce Haight crossword puzzle fan but it is certainly nowhere near one of his best.

It also illustrates the necessity of paying attention when editing a puzzle submitted some time ago. Oliver North quit as a FOX commenter 2 months ago because he is now the head of everybody's favorite organization, the NRA. As soon as the next mass shooting occurs, we will undoubtedly see him making statements that making gunstocks and automatic weapons illegal won't stop the slaughter. We need to make abortion illegal and remove some doors from schools. Got it. Oh, I forgot. He will send his prayers and sympathy too.

tb 8:36 AM  

The NYTimes would clue Hitler as Austrian corporal.

Anonymous 8:36 AM  

One of the things I’ve noticed coming here for a year is that Rex’s level of love/hate is usually less about the puzzle than the constructor. When I see a Bruce Haight puzzle I know a slam is coming and so does everyone here (and so does Bruce). Over time I’ve noticed that this affects how I perceive a puzzle as I do it - before I ever read said slam.

Meanwhile if a puzzle is by a friend of Rex’s - someone who fills in here say, or a fellow puzzle blogger - those usually get raves.

I note that there are many times when I hate a puzzle but I come here and it gets a rave and it’s because I didn’t know there was a Rex connection. But the nature of expert commentary is that it convinces you to think as the expert thinks. So you end up hating all Bruce Haight puzzles on sight, but at the same time tending to doubt yourself when you hate a puzzle, if you start to think that Rex might just love it.

I found this puzzle to be a meta experience. It’s not really that I didn’t like it - it’s that I spent the whole puzzle thinking about how much Rex would hate it’s retroness and occasional taste tightropes. It’s like I can’t even experience a BH puzzle with my own mind.

Nancy 8:48 AM  

Interesting. I hate PPP and yet I had no idea while doing the puzzle that it was anywhere near as prevalent as @Z (8:08) points out. To me, the running of the answers together seemed clever (Hi, @Lewis) and more like wordplay than the LITTLE KNOWN FACTS of yesterday. In fact, I was so entranced by the wordplay that I failed to notice that OLIVER NORTH had been described as a "political commentator" (Hi, @Pamela Kelly, 7:47). It would have bothered me, too, had I noticed.

But the puzzle felt long to me. It wasn't that it was a slog; it just seemed very long, as Sundays are often wont to seem. I did it last night, so perhaps I was a bit tired.

Brian Cimmet 8:49 AM  

Wanted PODCAST clued with “Fill Me In”.

CDilly52 8:57 AM  

While I didn’t hate this puzzle, it was only because it reminded me of sitting at the dining room table with my grandmother on Sunday afternoon working the NYT puzzle. She solved in ink, to my young (then) mind a miraculous feat, and a life goal. So, I am 66 and so much of this reminded me of Gran and the fill of many of those puzzles, so, for today’s offering, stale is being kind. I never got to ink because of keyboarding it. And if I am honest, ink would just leave a gloppy mess. At least after all these years of trying I usually finish.

Ruth F 9:09 AM  

I thought the theme was fine. Found the puzzle on the easy side, theme-wise, but slowed by the PPP. Thought DOGNAP was a good answer. It is consistent with the “take” part of the clue. One often dog sits where the dog lives and doesn’t take the dog. And, yes, Oliver North is a political commentator. It’s true. It is okay, clue-wise, that he is not “just” a political commentator. It may not be okay, otherwise.

Unknown 9:16 AM  

It wasn't easy for me but we all have those days. Not a particularly fun puzzle but challenging. Kind of archaic in spots but that's ok sometimes too. I guess I don't have all that much to say but I love posting on this website. Have a good Sunday y'all!

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

This wasn’t a great puzzle and way too easy but it didn’t deserve such a nasty review from such a nasty reviewer. Thanks to Brice Haight for being such a good sport. Don’t listen to the haters Mr. Haight. And for the record, Oliver North is now a political commentator. It is a simple statement of fact. No issues there.

Nancy 9:36 AM  

@Anon 8:36 -- I hope you won't find what I'm about to say in any way snarky, because I certainly don't mean it that way. But I read your comment with a sense of mounting alarm. "The nature of expert commentary is that it convinces you to think as the expert thinks...It's like I can't even experience a BH puzzle with my own mind." OMG, Anon 8:36. Please, please say it ain't so.

For a very long time now, I've counselled people who are upset by Rex's negativity to simply not read him. But no one on this blog has ever seemed to need that advice as much as you do. And so I say to you: DON'T READ REX. DON'T EVER, EVER READ REX. Use your own mind. I'm sure it's a very good one. Trust your own reactions. I'm sure they're at least as valid as Rex's. I suspect that many people here might actually find them more so.

Anonymous 9:37 AM  

65 down “try this!” How is the answer “case”?

Z 9:41 AM  

@Nancy - I’ve told the origin story of my counting PPP before, but it bears repeating from time to time. I breezed through a Saturday puzzle and commented how free of pop culture it was. Later that day several members of the commentariat had leveled some serious complaints about the excessive level of pop culture clues and answers. Seeking to prove just how wrong those people were I counted all the proper nouns and it turned out to be something like 40% of the puzzle. It had just seemed low to me because the answers were in my wheelhouse. I then spent a few weeks counting all the pop culture, product names, and other proper nouns and comparing the count to the comments. From this I concluded that under 33% PPP did not result in many complaints, but over 33% was almost certainly going to result in some subset of solvers to come here and complain. Note, though, that it is almost never universal, for any 40% PPP puzzle there is also a subset of solvers who breeze through the puzzle in near record time.

Z 9:43 AM  

@anon9:37 - a lawyer will try a CASE in court.

Rob 10:04 AM  

I know the theme type has been done, but I liked the puzzle anyway. I like to try to guess the theme answers before I have enough filled in that it's obvious and I get to feel smart when I do. All of these theme answers were pretty solid. Definitely easy, but I don't think it's too out of line for a Sunday puzzle.

GILL I. 10:06 AM  

@Anony 8:36. While @Nancy doesn't read @Rex, I do. And I agree that his critique does taint ones opinions of certain puzzles. I immediately knew I was in for a knock down once I looked at who the constructor was. However, I read @Rex because I think it's a bit counter-productive not to. I've learned a ton from @Rex and I know what to look for and appreciate. He's abrasive and we all know that. But, I find him entertaining as hell. Like @JOHN X....I cross my fingers he'll toss out a good one. Today didn't disappoint....
@Regis Cleary..."Do we need 365 completely fresh and original puzzles every year?" Well, it would be nice to have a least a few. We're already in July and yet I can't think of one single memorable Sunday puzzle this year. @Rex is spot on on his opinion of stale, stale , stale. Will Shortz ever sit up and take notice? I, for one, hope he does.
Sunday puzzle bring wonderful memories to me. My first NYT sitting under a tree in Central Park. Discarding the entire Sunday paper except for the crossword. It was an expensive pastime. I miss those days. I do them now because I pay for them. I should stop but then I wouldn't be coming here and this site is my enjoyment.
PERSON PLACE THING as a theme title makes me want to pour @JOHN X's vodka in my Wheaties. I'll save that for later. The theme answers brought nary a smile nor a chuckle...just a bunch of words that have a tie- in. Then we have TAN QUAD ARGON BERYL in the fourth line across. Meh. Look at the words in the across strings. They are all from the 70's it seems. OLE REAMS YOYO IAMS going to be ill. Oh look...more fun at the oldy moldy last across string of SONY ESPYS SEER MUST I. See? No wordplay...not much fun.
Wake up, Will...Give us our daily bread and make it a good rye.

Anonymous 10:13 AM  

Man, Mikey Haights this constructor...

Anonymous 10:14 AM  

Why hasn't anyone commented on the awesome Pizza Lady story?

Bax'N'Nex 10:19 AM  

@johnmcknight...don’t worry, most people here don’t have a lot to say.

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

Some of us have not been doing crosswords for 40 years and we had a good time with the theme.

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

Where have you gone, Eugene T Maleska?

MickMcMick 10:22 AM  

No challenge here. Easy theme. I finished well before my morning cigar and second cup of coffee were done. Looks like everyone took the weekend off.

Marcie 10:29 AM  

Nancy, I like the way you think!

allan 10:39 AM  

@Everyone who has a problem with @rex’s negativity I’d like to offer this advice: Think for yourself! By that I mean solve puzzle, form an opinion and then read OFL’s comments. Then you can agree or disagree without him influencing your opinion.

@anon 10:14 you’re absolutely right. For those who are relatively new to this site, Andrea was a frequent poster (until @rex blasted one of her puzzles). That was a beautiful piece, and I’m glad @acme is doing well and bringing some kindness into a world that needs it more than ever. Rock on Andrea.

Z 10:49 AM  

Rex updated today’s post with a story about @ACME. If you were here before 10:00 you probably missed it. Rex also linked to it on Twitter.

Bob in Nampa 10:51 AM  

Fine by me. So what if the theme's been done before?
Had to chuckle at all the knee jerk (key word "jerk") comments triggered by Oliver North.

Anonymous 10:52 AM  

Rather unfortunate that "geek" was used. String someone out on heroin then cut them off....sure, they'll bite the head off of that chicken.

Malsdemare 10:57 AM  

@anonymous 10:14 I'll comment on the Acme story. I was dazzled by her commitment. But I'll admit to puzzlement. I thought that health department rules prohibited distribution of leftover food by restaurants. Though, now that I think about it, at least one Coffee shop in downtown Chicago claims it gives its leftovers to a soup kitchen. So maybe things have changed; sure hope so. To anyone looking for an easy way to do good: collect all those freebies that hotels leave in the rooms — toiletries, coffee, creamer, teabags, — and give to a homeless shelter. Those things are gold to those with nothing. I'm told they'll get 3-4 uses out of a single coffee packet.

I'm fine with the puzzle. It met my expectations for a pleasant 30-40 minutes while I drink my coffee. However, I'm old so most of those names were very familiar to me. I'm so out of touch with current media that when we get today's athletes, pop stars, glamour types, I'm totally lost. I even knew MOE, though that's because we watched "The Godfather" last night. Great movie but an awful experience I won't repeat: a 2-hour movie aired over 4 hours. No, no, AMC. I won't do that again.

Thanks for commenting today Bruce. It’s always fun when the constructor shows up. And JOHN X, don't you dare leave. You're a highlight of the blog, along with the other stalwarts, too numerous to mention. Speaking of which, where's Loren?

relicofthe60s 10:59 AM  

Seems like it would have been better if the themed clues has been less straightford. For example, 109A Crime committed by a movie star in the Mideast?

Lewis 11:05 AM  

Thank you Bruce for chiming in. Credit to Will for tightening the theme, and credit to you for coming up with in-the-language answers that fit the narrower limits.

Banana Diaquiri 11:19 AM  

me wonder if the puzzles have really changed over the years

I've used books of NYT Sundays, even from the 90s. they're more challenging.

Banana Diaquiri 11:24 AM  

I do find the implied connections amusing:
- Ollie North now makes his living as a stripper
- Paris Hilton is a head case
- Sean Penn had a breakdown
- Al Green's obese

RooMonster 11:26 AM  

I thought it was a nice SunPuz. Ended up with the corners semi-filled with having the middle all filled. It's usually the other way around. So that was different. Have no problems with the NOUN theme. Liked how they fit together.

Writeovers: HoldON-HANGON, Ott-ORR (one day I'll get 'em straight), star-MOON (close, Har), STaId-STOIC. onES-EXES (tricky clue), tASED-LASED.

But did get puz 100% correct after all that. Did I GO NUTS? ABSOLUTely! :-) No, I'm not a WEIRDO. (Opinions may vary.)

Some fun clues, RUBIK one comes to mind. So overall, a nice satisfying solve. Put that in your PLAID WOOL CAP. HMM...


TubaDon 11:28 AM  

     Got 2/3 of the first theme GREEN BAY WINDOW right away, but don't know many soul singers, so after slogging through the rest of the puzzle, i came back to the northwest, got a chuckle at DOGNAP, had a Doh! moment at ECLAT and finished off with LSATS.

     Note to FLAC: SHANTY is a perfectly acceptable variant spelling of CHANTEY. Lots of folk song albums use that.

Stanley Hudson 11:43 AM  

This was a competent, workmanlike Sunday puzzle that I neither HAIGHTed nor loved.

“The weirdest thing about solving today was that I felt like I was strugggggggggling ... and then posted my fastest time in months.”
Another masterful humble-brag.

JC66 11:44 AM  

@Rex Thanks for the ACME clip...beautiful. (@Nancy. Even a blind dog finds a bone once in a while.)

@Mals I think Loren's on vacation.

Carola 11:47 AM  

Not easy for me, rather it was entertainingly challenging, I liked trying to anticipate the chain of person, place, and thing,and found plenty else to like, from ONLY TOO to WHAT-NOT to BIG TO-DO.
Favorite fake-me-out clue: Dash = ECLAT, not speeD.
Favorite pair: ALL LEGS over POLE DANCE.
Moment of enlightenment: WALLOP doesn't have an h.
Moment of shame: As a life-long Packer fan wondering, "What city ends with BAY?"

oopsydeb 11:49 AM  

Yawn. About 20 years ago in a budget tightening phase, I almost canceled my NYT subscription. Instead, I scaled it back to Sunday only. And I did that because I could not give up the Sunday puzzle. Now a full online NYT subscriber, I am considering giving up my puzzle subscription. I like a little clever in my Sunday puzzle. I miss a little clever in my Sunday puzzle.

I pay no attention to constructor names (sorry, constructors), so I'm never thinking about Rex's history of love or hate for the constructor while I solve. I disliked this one all on my own.

RICH LITTLE? How does he make it in a puzzle? Ugh.
ROCK MUSIC? I am going to head to the string of record stores downtown tomorrow and see if any of them has a section labeled ROCK MUSIC. They don't, of course. They maybe have a section labeled Rock, but more likely have sections labeled Indie Rock, Pop, Grunge, Pop Punk, Alt Rock, Garage, Glam, New Wave...And if they have just the generic Rock, it's labeled just that, not Rock Music.

Neither of those issues would have bothered me much had I enjoyed the puzzle. OLIVER NORTH as political commentator would bother me no matter how enjoyable the puzzle.

Thank you at least for Idris Elba.

Gulliver Foyle 11:50 AM  

I learned the original meaning of the word "GEEK" from this puzzle. I think that's something.

I also appreciate Haight chiming in with his thoughts, in a non-confrontational way.

LisaG 11:50 AM  

I don’t understand how case means try this. Anybody?

JC66 11:54 AM  

@LisaG. see @Z's 9:43 comment.

Joseph Michael 12:08 PM  

Not that familiar with this type of word chain, so for me it was a fun workout. Unlike most Sunday puzzles, it held my interest from beginning to end. My only complaint was WHUMP, which I thought should have been THUMP, though I had no idea what a TEIRDO was.

Rex’s hate for Haight led me to expect the predictable tirade above, though I was amused by some of the extremes to which his critical CLAW reached, such as righteous indignation over the inclusion of DOGNAP and dismissive disregard for the Internet site EHOW. There are actually a lot of really good tips on ehow about how to kidnap cocker spaniels.


FLAC 12:13 PM  

Note to TubaDon: Right you are. Thanks for teaching this old dog a new trick.

BTW, I meant to compliment Rex for choosing "Love and Happiness" as the Al Green clip. That guitar lick at the beginning (by Memphis legend Teenie Hodges) is off the chain, as is the extended fade-out.

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

And the third most abundant gas in the atmosphere is water vapor

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

Hear, hear!! Very nice story about a very generous person.

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

This puzzle is the kind of awfulness that makes me consider canceling my NYTimes crossword subscription.

QuasiMojo 12:34 PM  

For a great GEEK movie, watch the classic film noir Nightmare Alley starring Tyrone Power. Chilling!

John Culhane 12:46 PM  

I love that the constructor posted a comment; a gracious one, at that. I think his quiet dignity in the face of Rex’s all-too-typical, withering condescension is the perfect reproach.

Anonymous 12:49 PM  

It's a wonderful puzzle. Reject MS and his culture of complaint. Excellent work, thank you for your efforts!

Anonymous 12:53 PM  

Is OFL pronounced like "offal" or "awful"?

Masked and Anonymous 12:54 PM  

Borderliner. Kinda like the person-into-place-into-thing idea, but it falls slightly short on the humor angle that I'd like to see a SunPuz theme have. I say only "slightly short", becuz it was sometimes amusin to see how Mr. Haight pulled this off. And sometimes sorta funny what the theme phrase ended up sayin, as a whole [MAE WEST BANK HEIST, e.g.], even tho not clued thataway.

Only six Sunday themers, but they are each pretty looong, sooo … ok.

As @RP snarlinly points out, 7-long ain't real long, for yer longest nonthemer entry. Best chance for longballs in this grid layout mighta been in the NE and SW, where U could maybe have snuck in a coupla 11-longers, that each woulda only had to cross 2 of the themers. Unfortunately, that's where U've already splatzed in some tasty 7-stacks.

Primo desperado start-up, with them funky, sure-to-please LSATS+ECLAT+DOGNAP+YAKOV scrappers in the NW territories. Lost precious nanoseconds, tryin to defrost that section out. After that, solvequest in M&ALand went pretty smooth, with only an occasional WHUMP or ONLYTOO puttin up a fight.

staff weeject pick: HMM. As in: "HMM .. only 7 U's in a SunPuz?!?" HMM has Patrick Berry Usage Immunity, btw.

Thanx for the Well-Noun theme workout, Mr. Haight. And congratz for stoppin by. And way to go, ACME darlin.

Masked & Anonym007Us

illustrated & weird:

old timer 12:55 PM  

I found this one tough, but doable. Kind of a slog, but I've seen worse. And I remember one time when OFL actually praised a Haight puzzle. Only once but it did happen.

I am really here to offer kudos to @Gulliver Foyle. Terra is my dwelling place, too.

Anonymous 1:03 PM  

Second the shout out to Teenie who also co-wrote the song - one of the greatest intros ever.

Banana Diaquiri 1:15 PM  

one TRYs a CASE in court.
if you watch old movies, GEEK is mentioned whenever a circus/carnival/etc. is involved. how it came to mean whatever it is today, I know not.

Birchbark 1:23 PM  

In the double-dated department, that Rich Little photo looks remarkably like a Jack Benny pose. It all works as far as I'm concerned.

Good ol' Joe 1:35 PM  

Rex said: “This is the kind of puzzle that helps maintain the image of puzzles as just a cute diversion”

I don’t know about y’all but...crossword puzzles are a cute diversion.

I really really love crossword puzzles, been doing and constructing them for decades. And it’s an interesting enough topic to read this blog and fund puzzle kickstarters and on and on...but they’re still a cute diversion.

Actually I can’t imagine a life so isolated from real joys and worries that crossword puzzles fill any space other than “cute diversion”.

Oh and I liked this puzzle.

Anonymous 1:59 PM  

Try a dictionary next time.

Anonymous 2:04 PM  

Haters gonna hate. Don't drink the Haterade.

Anonymous 2:08 PM  

Perhaps better clued "elemental" gas.

pabloinnh 2:10 PM  

@JohnMcKnight--I liked your description of the puzzle as "kind of archaic in spots". It made me think as am I, as am I. I know there are many fans of Hilton Head but I am not among them. We visited years ago and the best comment came from my son who was then about 8 or 9. He asked "Where do the people (meaning the hired help) live?". Nice beach though.

Banana Diaquiri 2:12 PM  

@Joseph Michael:
Not that familiar with this type of word chain

become a regular watcher of "Wheel of Fortune". they do such puzzles frequently, although only a two step. but it's still good practice.

pcardout 2:26 PM  

Dear Mr. Haight ... I would say that the quality of Rex's commentary is not up to snuff of late (grin). Good for you for reading and responding. I'm just an exPat New Yorker in rural New Mexico, but I enjoyed your puzzle. I agree Ollie North shouldn't get a pass, but the content was good. Your themers actually helped solve the puzzle, which I appreciated. Just how many different possible tricks are there? I have no problem with recycling!

Unknown 2:49 PM  

Loved this theme! Fun solve. Thanks Bruce Haight.

Joe Bleaux 2:50 PM  

My grated-upon ear hears ya ... but I'm pretty sure that AT THE END OF THE DAY, such irritants are here to stay.

Bax'N'Nex 2:58 PM  

@Good ol’ Joe... (1:35) that post should be posted at the start of every new day here...

Unknown 3:14 PM  

The clue is N. H(ockey). L., So it couldn't be Ott (baseball) or Els (golf).

Mohair Sam 5:21 PM  

Finished early this morning and didn't see Rex's link to ACME "Pizza Lady" video from ABC News. Didn't feel like posting or reading the commentariat because I didn't have much to say and figured the blog would be full of whining that OLIVERNORTH wasn't clued as satan incarnate.

Glad I came back and discovered what ACME is up to. Andrea, you're the best.

Joe 5:37 PM  

I found the puzzle “archaic” too. What slightly bugs me is that Rex gets into a lather over a puzzle that took him 10 minutes to solve, while for me it was an hour of not-very-interesting-ness. It’s why I often skip Sundays—they’re just too damn long, for me, at least.

Suzie Q 5:53 PM  

I was hoping for more comments about pole dancing.
At least JOHN X did not disappoint me.
Bruce H. seems to be one of the coolest guys around.

sixtyni yogini 6:02 PM  

Agree with Rex. 😍😎😍

jberg 6:10 PM  

I liked this theme fine. It was fairly easy to figure out the theme answers once I had a couple of crosses, but I enjoyed the process a lot. Also, i grew up in Sturgeon Bay, WI, 35 miles NE of GREEN BAY, so I'm always happy to see the latter in a puzzle. I liked it even better after read @Bruce Haight's explanation.

Now the ARGON thing. First of all, Wikipedia at least says there is twice as much ARGON as water vapor in the atmosphere, so if they are right then so is the clue. Didn't matter to me, because I read the clue as "universe" rather than atmosphere. Water vapor pretty much doesn't exist outside atmospheres -- it either freezes or gets blasted apart by cosmic rays -- so I figured it must be a noble gas; no idea which one. So that was just good luck on my part.

Bad luck, though, in putting in WHoMP, not noticing that 12D had to be UPDO, so DNF due to the error.

@Unkown at 3:14 PM -- you have to understand the habits developed by those trying to solve in less time. You use all kinds of shortcuts, such as '3-letter athlete' = OTT, rather than pausing to figure out the clue.

@John X, @Gill I. -- your comments want me to say "what a waste of good vodka!" But as one who still insists on gin in my martinis and gin & tonics, I've never been convinced that good vodka is a thing. (Don't mean to be snarky, I'd be glad to be proved wrong.)

Ray of Hope department: @Rex used to treat @ACME pretty much the way he treats @Bruce Haight; so he can change his mind. (I, too, remember that he praised a Haight puzzle once in this very year, too.)

Mohair Sam 7:12 PM  

@jberg (6:10) - I've burned through many gallons of vodka martinis - but I'll agree with you that gin makes the very best martini - especially if it's Beefeater.

I think the turn to vodka in the martini succeeded because cheap vodka is at least palpable, cheap gin is god-awful. (not that your neighborhood bar would stoop to using cheap booze)

Aketi 7:17 PM  

@Suzie Q, I took one look at some of the inversions people do for those POLE DANCE classes and concluded you’d have to have Superwoman abs to be able to invert yourself upside down on the POLE. The POLE DANCE fails videos showed lots of people falling on their heads or improperly installed POLEs collapsing. It reminded me of Jeanne Robertson who went vital a while back that had a whole riff on “Don’t Bungee jump naked naked...

@Rex, thx for the Pizza Lady link.

Anonymous 7:20 PM  

I'm overseas so have an extra complaint about the Sunday puzzle. It is printed in a small font. It comes with the Saturday-Sunday International NY Times, so I can get to it early, if I want to.

I don't fully understand Nancy's animus toward Rex, or OFL. I disagree with Rex about much, including his wholly negative assessment of today's puzzle. I didn't really like it, but I didn't find it worse than most of what we are getting lately. Rex seems to want puzzles more edgy and contemporary. I'd prefer those which were less so, with less reliance on popular culture, daytime television, and electronic games.

I'll paste what I wrote many months ago: Indiana University has made a big fuss over their “personalized” majors. Their great success story is Will Shortz, who created for himself a major in “enigmology” or something to that effect. Shortz even appears in ads for the University, in fund-raising drives. Those of us who complain about the NY Times puzzles reflecting too much trivia of popular culture, day-time television, and video games, may want to argue that Shortz should have been required to pursue a course of studies in the humanities. I argue this, but a defense of the humanities falls on deaf ears.

I recently have appreciated Rex more after reflecting on his absence. When he had, over the last several weeks, numerous substitutes, did others with me feel that something was really missing, an "edge" that the substitutes could not provide?

I much appreciate Rex's work in all this. I keep promising to send him a little money, but I never do. I hope I will when I get stateside.

Anon. i.e. Poggius
Florence, for about another week

JC66 8:00 PM  

@Mohair. I used Tangueray for years, but recently switched to Bombay Sapphire. I save vodka for the morning after (Bloody Marys).

linda 9:07 PM  

That’s why he won the Nobel!

jazzmanchgo 9:24 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Z 9:25 PM  

@Mohair - Dang. I had an interminable rant all cued up just for you....

Interesting how memories differ. ACME was so tight with Rex that she guest blogged for him and got him and daughter a meet and greet with Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Something happened (something never shared on the blog by Rex or ACME as far as I can recall) and there was a major falling out. It was about the same time the Evil/Acme feud blew up, but I don’t know that the two events were related. For those newer to the blog, ACME filled much the same space as @LMS does now, always able to find the good in a puzzle. That’s how I remember it.

jazzmanchgo 9:34 PM  

Banana Daiquiri -- Al Green IS obese these days! You wouldn't recognize him if you saw him preaching at his church in Memphis and didn't know who he was, unless/until he broke into song (which he still does occasionally).

JC66 9:54 PM  


My recollection is that it had something to do with @Rex's harshness, but I could be mistaken. It was a long time ago.

oopsydeb 10:10 PM  

Mohair Sam and jberg: what is this martini with vodka of which you speak? Martinis are made with gin. And a good amount of vermouth. dang it. Now if you want vodka and vermouth, have a kangaroo. And I'm not nearly as old as this comment makes me seem. :)

Mohair Sam 11:21 PM  

@oopsydeb (10:10) - Your comment makes you seem about 85, so yeah, you're probably not that old. Good martinis are made with gin and just a breath of vermouth, btw.

@Z - I was pleased to see you held your tongue (or keyboard) to a great degree. Ollie's hard to love, but he was indeed a political commentator for quite a while.

Unknown 11:27 PM  

Watch FOX lady. Get educated. You are suffering from TDS. Give yourself a FLEET.

kitshef 11:36 PM  

Did not particularly enjoy the puzzle as the themers were too familiar, so there was no bite to the puzzle. But gee, I liked it a heck of a lot more than Rex did.

Way to go Acme!

oopsydeb 11:44 PM  

@Mohair Sam: Ha! 50, not 85. I'm a big gin lover, always have 7 or 8 in the house, host gin tastings to recruit noobs into the gin life. But a good martini is both gin and vermouth. I typically do a 3:1 ratio, sometimes a 2.5:1. And in this, I'm actually a bit younger than 50, as the young ones try to correct the silliness of the vermouth whisper martini. :)

thefogman 10:01 AM  

Cheeky monkey!

Anonymous 1:33 PM  

Definitely some dated feeling answers here. I'm 30 and this puzzle was pretty difficult for me.

Unknown 9:46 PM  

I enjoyed it. Thanks.

RonL 11:43 PM  

Rex’s blog would be greatly improved if he just provided the solution and left all the commentary to subscribers. His tirades are ABSOLUTly tiresome.

oopsydeb 12:07 AM  

Ronl,I think if I had that opinion I would make the very simple and obvious choice of not reading the blog.

Burma Shave 11:33 AM  


HMM, MUSTI say that my WEIRDO blonde EXES a WILDONE?
WHATNOT to like? ALLLEGS, with LITTLE EXCESS up top,
CLAIMS she's UPSET that THIS SCREWIN on TVS all done,


rondo 12:18 PM  

What's the BIGTODO about the theme? AGREED, it's been done before, most all of 'em have. THIS is just an extended version of WoF's Before & After category and OFL CLAIMS it's tired. ORR ELSE it's Haightred, again.

Lotsa hotel choices with HYATT, OMNI, HILTON.

ROCKMUSIC: Uriah HEEP's Easy Livin':

Would have preferred clues for YOYO Ma, Don HENLEY and yeah baby ELLE MacPherson. I understand EDIE Sedgwick was a WILDONE.

Points for including the missus' name. THIS puz was EAU KAY.

rainforest 1:48 PM  

I didn't read @Rex's apparently Haight-filled post. What would be the point? It's all been said countless times.

I found the puzzle at least "medium", and I had several spots where I sputtered, but then picked up speed for the last third. Maybe this type of theme has been done before, but this was raised a level by having every part have a different sense reading left to right. Well done, I say.

In addition I thought the fill was just fine, and there was a ton of great clues, to boot. Speaking of boot, kudos to France winning the World Cup, and to Croatia (my favourite), for never giving up.

Hendrick's Gin with a touch of vermouth in my martinis, thank you very much.

All in all, a good Sunday.

AnonymousPVX 2:55 PM  

I try not to get emotionally involved in non-emotional activities. Which puzzle solving is supposed to be, an intellectual activity not an emotional one.
So I’m not upset about themes, I just try to get the solve.
Which I was more than happy to do today. It started out rough, I skipped the theme entries until I could make sense of them, and then got the solve.
Life is too short even when everything goes sense in creating issues. Especially over crosswords.

leftcoastTAM 4:54 PM  

PARIS HILTON HEAD SHOP and OLIVER NORTH POLE DANCE were priceless. Along with the other themers they made most of the puzzle seem easy.

GEEK is a carnival worker? Okay, I guess. Wanted WHoMP before WHUMP. Okay, again.

NW was a near spoiler. The "point" and "pointers" clues for the crossing SCORE and DOGNAP answers were brain scramblers for a while. TAN for a "beachgoer's souvenir" and ECAT for "dash" added to the time needed to unscramble that corner.

Glad to get through this Bruce Haight puzzle with little pain. Liked it.

Diana,LIW 5:23 PM  

So typical of my experience with BH that I struggled with his puzzle the other day and then loved, loved, loved this one.

Did I mention that I loved this puzzle?

Fun to figure out the themeers. Just the right crunch for a Sunday. Made a couple of errors (misdirects!) that I corrected to get the solve.

Re-read @Rex, and I just don't get it.

Lady Di

Anonymous 9:53 PM  

Hey Rex you whiny fuckin NIBLET why don't you huff my ASS you fuckin GEEK and CANCEL yourself

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