Queen Gertrude's alas in Hamlet / TUE 8-21-18 / South Asian mixed rice dish / MASH transport informally / Comedy rock duo featuring actor Jack Black / Self-important minor official

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Constructor: John Lieb and Andrea Yañes

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging to Challenging (3:48) (my third-slowest Tuesday of the past four months)

THEME: DARWIN (69A: Evolution theorist ... or what the circled letters are evolving toward?) — circled squares pick up a new letter and spell out a new word with each subsequent theme answer, going from D to DARIN ... and then DARWIN there at the end:

Theme answers:
  • TENACIOUS D (21A: Comedy rock duo featuring actor Jack Black)
  • DA ALI G SHOW (26A: Sacha Baron Cohen program of the early 2000s)
  • STEELY DAN (36A: "Reelin' in the Years" band)
  • DARN TOOTIN' (47A: "Abso-lutely!")
  • BOBBY DARIN (55A: 1950s-'60s teen idol who sang "Dream Lover" and "Splish Splash")
Word of the Day: TENACIOUS D —
Tenacious D is an American comedy rock duo, formed in Los AngelesCalifornia in 1994. It was founded by actors Jack Black and Kyle Gass, who were part of The Actors' Gang theater company at the time. The duo's name is derived from "tenacious defence" - a phrase used by NBA basketball sportscaster Marv Albert. [...] Critics have described their fusion of vulgar absurdist comedy with rock music as "mock rock". Their songs discuss the duo's purported musical and sexual prowess, as well as their friendship and cannabis usage in a style that music critics have compared with the storyteller-style lyrics of rock opera. (wikipedia)
• • •

Was dismayed by how arbitrary all the letter-adding seemed, until I got to DARWIN. That answer gave the theme the hook it really needed. It's a super-duper pop culture-dependent puzzle—a really dicey trait for a Tuesday puzzle. Tons of people won't even know who TENACIOUS D are, I guar-an-tee you. DA ALI G SHOW will be more familiar because ALIG is in puzzles occasionally. STEELY DAN and BOBBY DARIN are legit famous, no problem there. The fill, sadly, is quite bad in many places, with several short answers you should never use except in a terrible emergency (and esp. not on a Tuesday): NMI, TAUR, ERL (!), ORY (!!), and OME (!?!?!). Queen Gertrude's "alas"!?!?!?!?!? I teach Shakespeare every year and I had no idea what this clue was even trying to get at. As if Gertrude is somehow famous for saying "O [comma] ME." Ha ha, no. That is soooo bad. I didn't even understand there was an implied comma in that answer until after I was done. OME is bad fill never use it ever, ok? ok. And ETA is not good and neither is ETD, so you're gonna wanna just blow by them, not create a whole cluster**** of crossreferencing jokiness around them at the center of your grid. Next time, I mean.

The NE and SW corners were so wide open, which, again, made the puzzle harder than a normal Tuesday. But the most challenging was the SE, I think, where the GOD part of TIN GOD was a mystery to me, and GO GRAY (a good answer) was tough, as was ONE ONE (as clued), and then there's BIRYANI (44D: South Asian mixed rice dish), which I have never seen on a menu despite having been to many Indian restaurants in my life. Rough. I think it's been in the puzzle before, but again, it's Tuesday, so yikes. I really liked GAP YEAR (3D: Hiatus between high school and college) and IRON MAN (2D: Avenger in a red-and-gold costume) next to each other up there in the NW. Besides the SE corner, my main struggle involved parsing DA ALI G SHOW, first because of O comma ME, and second. because I spelled it Kunta K*E*NTE. Oy, proper nouns crossing at vowels. So dangerous.

Had a wonderful time this past weekend at Lollapuzzoola 11 in NYC (run by Brian Cimmet and Patrick Blindauer). Huge success. New venue on the Upper West Side and they packed the joint—maxed out at 400 contestants. Lots of first-time tourney-goers were there, many of them (apparently) competing in the Pairs division. My wife and I came in fourth this year (out of 63 teams!) which is not bad. A couple teams who didn't compete last year were very strong, and my friend Neville Fogarty and his mother did amazingly well, coming in 2nd in Pairs. The overall winner of the tournament was Stella Zawistowski, who managed to finish a very tough finals puzzle ahead of Glen Ryan and Sam Ezersky. I met a ton of new people and got to see many old friends. Again, this tournament and Indie 500 (in D.C. in the late spring) are the only ones I reliably attend—because they are in cool cities and they are run by cool people and the puzzles are of a very high quality and the vibe of the tournaments is relaxed and fun. You should make a point of trying out Lollapuzzoola 12 next year, but you'll want to keep an eye out for it and register early. Its popularity increases every year.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. here's an embarrassingly self-congratulatory article in which the NYT basically calls a bunch of you (commenters on this blog) trash, without even having the courage to name this blog directly.

"Commenters often respond with attacks on puzzle makers." Just chew on that sentence for a while. Worth noting that the NYT didn't even have its own (self-praising) blog until after Diary of a Crossword Fiend and then my own blog proved very popular, allowing for people other than His Highness to dictate public perception of the crossword. So now the NYT has not one but *two* house blogs (xwordinfo is *not* independent) to create the illusion that there are two kinds of blogs: "mean" blogs (not theirs) and "nice" blogs (theirs). I would've let this stupid puff piece blow right by, but they decided to totally mischaracterize my blog without even deigning to name it. I guess this hokey, feel-good nonsense is how they distract solvers from the embarrassingly low constructor pay, the sexist / racist fill that the editor has included and defended over the years, et cetera et cetera. Pettiness appears to be a winning financial strategy for them, though, so I guess I can't blame them.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Will 12:06 AM  

Just because one doesn't order biryani doesn't mean its not on the menu. If you've been to Indian restaurants, you've seen menus with biryani on it.

Düdie 12:16 AM  

I don't usually get past Wednesday but managed to solve with relative ease. Groaned at DARWIN.
Also, first comment, yay!

Tom 12:26 AM  

Took a third longer than my average, so medium-challenging for me. Tried BIGoaf right off the bat. Mistakenly put in ieD for 30d, and took forever to correct it to WMD. No clue who Kid ORY is or was, so the S B Cohen clue mystified me for a while. Never seen ETD and ETA juxtaposed before. Felt desperate.

As for the irritating comment from the NYT about this blog (apparently), I wouldn't do the Times puzzle if it weren't for this blog. The criticism is against the sloppy editing for the most part, not the puzzle makers. An informed and effective editor should enhance the quality, not leading to so much mediocrity. Will needs to earn his pay.

jae 12:33 AM  

Easy-medium, but I knew the 4 PPP theme answers. Too much @Rexarcane crosswordese fill for me...ERL, MNI, OME, ORY, ACA, SYL, ETD, ETA, BCC...

Unknown 12:36 AM  

Call me old-fashioned, a usage dinosaur, or just... over 50, but I believe "perusal" (11-down) is clued incorrectly; it means a careful and thorough read. Check the dictionary.

Rita 12:44 AM  

I am travelling and did the puzzle in Montreal after a very pleasant Indian meal on the outdoor porch of Restaurant Dev near the airpot. You can find Biryani on their menu (though I would recommend the vegetarian thali). http://www.restaurantdev.ca/?cat=13

BarbieBarbie 1:19 AM  

Whoa. Interesting article. Here’s the thing: while the Rexblog is often negative about the puzzle, I don’t recall anybody ever chiming in with a “yeah, and the constructor sucks too.” So maybe the author meant another blog. Here’s the other thing: how does any House NYT blog comment section manage to form a community? Who can track through those comments? The NYT has a really bad format for anyone trying to follow a thread. One of the reasons I come here.

The puzzle? I agree with the review, today. Some very iffy crossings. The constructors? Don’t know ‘em.

John Hoffman 1:52 AM  

COPTER is correct, But I’ll say that one in MASH ever got on a copter! They were always called choppers.

puzzlehoarder 1:59 AM  

I read our host's link to that article that someone alluded to recently and it really makes me appreciate what we have here. If a puzzle pisses you off there should be a place to vent some spleen.

Today's ERL crossing BIRYANI is a prime example of this. Sure this is ERLs' 12th appearance and it ought to be beaten into my head by now. It kind of was just by the sound of it but it was the spelling I couldn't accept. Part of the problem is if it's fairly crossed it isn't a problem and unfortunately this has allowed it to slip through the cracks all these years. Today it gets crossed with an unknown debut (variety puzzles don't count) and I'm caught flat-footed.

I went with logic. KING is English and so is EEL. Wikipedia explains that the title is "often half translated." Under Shortz' editing it always is.

Partly I'm just having a dense night. I learned ALI G from previous puzzles but tonight I parsed 26A as DALLIG SHOW. At least logic worked for the L of LOSS. It makes no sense to me but it couldn't be anything else.

That article said nothing about anyone being "puzzle trash" but that's a great term. It's almost as good as hoarder.

Larry Gilstrap 2:42 AM  

Gonna blame it on impairment, but this Tuesday effort took some extra time. The SW corner had me scrambling, but why can't I learn to spell GREY, or is it gray? Mnemonic device, anyone?

I am so glad OFL doesn't read the comments. His musings on going GREY seem appropriate. Caps kill hair follicles, duh!

DARWIN is a hero. Read him! He spends lots of time apologizing for his theories, which pretty much remain science after over 150 years of scrutiny. He was into raising pigeons, fast breeding and monogamous. Thus the term: bird brain.

I graduated from Glendora High School in 1966, and the only GAP YEAR option available to me was a government sponsored tour in Vietnam. I sought a deferment to complete college, graduated from San Diego State in 1970, and was immediately offered a GAP YEAR in Vietnam.

BOBBY DARIN didn't have that great of a voice, but he knew how to sell a song. I heard "Mack the Knife" a thousand times before I had an inkling of what was going on.

Harryp 2:50 AM  

My first DNF Tuesday in memory. While I was trying to figure out why 2Down and 24Across wasn't working, my real problem was 44Down, 54Across because I couldn't see ERL and had EeL there. Never heard of BIRYANI, but probably will never forget it.

Anon 3:11 AM  

As someone who watches M*A*S*H religiously I can't recall a single time CHOPPERS were referred to as "copter". While I suppose it is technically true, that seems like a poor clue choice. Got me stuck for a bit and downhill from there...

Herbie Jurvanen 3:56 AM  

Long time reader, first time commenter.

This was a hard Tuesday for sure, yet complaining about things like the chopper/copter dichotomy feels lame. Yes, I also thought that they were never directly called copters on M*A*S*H, but aren’t we supposed to be word puzzle solvers here? And regarding the NYT comment— this place can get really passive aggressive at times. If a construction is called (for example) sloppy, then you’re calling the people involved sloppy in their performance. In any other art form this is plainly obvious; I don’t see why it would be any different for crosswords.

P.S. Every single Indian restaurant on my coast has biryani

mbr 4:07 AM  

@Larry Gilstrap: how about 'gray' with an 'A' for American, and 'grey' with an 'E' for English (well, British)

Loren Muse Smith 4:16 AM  

Hey – let’s not ignore that the puzzle starts off with BIG APE and ends with DARWIN. Nice.

Yeah – that BIRYANI/ERL cross was tough.

@Larry – I think I usually spell it grey. I’m not sure, but maybe we still have a choice?

TIN GOD was new to me, too.

I read the article, too. Our @Lewis is quoted! I have to agree with @Barbie Barbie about the system at Wordplay. When Rex was doing the moderation and the wait time was so long here, I tried switching to Wordplay. It is a kinder, gentler place for sure, but there are certainly those who pan the puzzle every now and then. Deb is fun and witty, and it is a close-knit group with interesting things to say. But to try to follow a thread is just too time-consuming; their system is beyond cumbersome. (One feature, though, is that you can “like” a comment; so many times here I want to “like” something that someone has written – Larry and his hamster firing up the wheel at 3:00am comes to mind.)

I tell you what, though, most over there won’t even mention the name Rex. We’re the Voldemort of crossworld. I think the general thinking is that everyone here follows Rex’s lead in negativity.
Not true. Ahem.

Herbie Jurvanen - welcome!

John, Andrea – I liked that the D, DA, …. were separate parts of the phrase. So, say, you didn’t go with something like MANDARIN for the DARIN or DARNING NEEDLE for the DARN.

Foodie 5:46 AM  

I just came in to say: biryani (or briyani, depending on where you live) is delicious, especially with some beef curry, and a staple dish in many a wedding in South East Asia

No Comma 6:25 AM  

Hamlet, Act III, scene IV

HAMLET: [Drawing] How now! a rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead!

[Makes a pass through the arras]

LORD POLONIUS: [Behind] O, I am slain!

[Falls and dies]

QUEEN GERTRUDE: O me, what hast thou done?

Lewis 6:31 AM  

My biggest learning of the day came in the Mini puzzle -- HYGGE, which is A Thing, one I never heard of and now happy to know about.

The full puzzle was, IMO, on the hard end of Tuesday (but not a Wednesday), with less obvious cluing in general than the normal Tuesday, and more answers that I didn't know than the normal Tuesday. I like that the circled letters go from D to DARWIN but not in a simple add-a-letter-at-the-end fashion because it feels closer to the reality of what real evolution is like -- a meandering along a big arc, not a straight shot. I liked this puzzle a lot; it felt edgier to me than the typical Tuesday.

This blog and the comments here have more bile/bite than WordPlay. I love both sites, coming at the puzzle from different places. The commenters on both are witty and interesting, two enjoyable groups centered around the star of the day, the puzzle.

John 6:51 AM  

I don't feel that complaining about COPTER being deliberately misleading is an unfair criticism. It's a great word, but it has zero to do with MASH.

MASH Quote 7:01 AM  

“The Abduction of Margaret Houlihan” (#102, 5×06)
Originally Broadcast: Tuesday, October 26th, 1976
Teleplay by Allan Katz & Don Reo
Story by Gene Reynolds
Directed by Gene Reynolds

Colonel Flagg: “Alert the Navy for offshore artillery. I want a squadron of copters for air-to-ground search and, uh, round up a box of scorpions. About a dozen.”
Radar: “You mean, uh, scorpions scorpions?”
Colonel Flagg: “Big ones.”
Hawkeye: “What the hell are you gonna do with a box of scorpions?”
Colonel Flagg: “It’s personal. Gift for a friend.”
[Radar begins to leave]
Colonel Flagg: “Corporal. If you can’t find scorpions, get two snakes and a rat.”
Radar: “And a rat. Right, right.”

beajen 7:08 AM  

When will Rex start editing the NYT puzzle? And make it perfect ?????

In the meantime, we should all cancel our subscriptions to get their revenue go down. Maybe they will realize what an incompetent racist Will is and get rid of this racist !!!!

JOHN X 7:13 AM  

This was an OK Tuesday except for that ERL and BIRYANI crossing. What the hell is ERL? Like whale oil?

I've never really liked Steely Dan and since I've heard the same four songs about a million times each since the 1970s I like them even less, but until I saw the video posted here I didn't realize just how completely dorky they were in concert, even with all their expensive hired-gun session musicians. That band looks like they go back to their hotel after a concert and read books.

A few weeks ago I made a comment here about the Wordplay blog review of a puzzle and Deb Amlin herself came over to this blog defending her review. It was as if she came looking for me. I gotta admit I felt a little famous for a second there.

Nobody anywhere ever says COPTERS.

Hungry Mother 7:16 AM  

Danish in the mini and a Natick DNF in the main event. Tuesdays are starting to get me down.

kitshef 7:22 AM  

One of those puzzles where whenever I thought I might start to like it, another terrible piece of fill or clue would come along. O ME, ERL(??), TAUR-, SEA BLUE, SYL, ETD/ETA/ETS, NMI, ORY(??), ON A.

All that for a theme that lands with all the force of a marshmallow – and which Rex seemed to like??? How is that possible?

There is an ice cream/frozen yoghurt place in Fenwick Island, Del. called HaHa’s where they have about sixty different things you can add to your cup. It turns out that CAPN Crunch goes really, really well in mint chocolate chip ice cream.

mmorgan 7:23 AM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle and it played very easy for me (those two points have no necessary relationship). No roadblocks or bumps, just very smooth sailing with many great answers. I rarely order it but I do like biryani -- and I've never seen an Indian restaurant without it -- yer darn tootin'!

Anonymous 7:34 AM  

Hatred begets hatred. Your legacy is sealed Mr Sharp.

FLAC 7:49 AM  

Enough already with the cross-blog sniping. As @Lewis suggests, the focus should be on the puzzle.

People have different tastes. They have different reasons for doing puzzles and reading blogs. I do the puzzle for fun and prefer this blog because I like its edginess. I read other blogs for a while and they seemed too anodyne. But that's just me.

Hartley70 7:49 AM  

Lots to chew on this morning and I had a hard time managing DAALIG since I saw it as one word and ERL because they just looked so wrong. ORY and NMI weren’t much easier. HASON and ONTO felt like a repetition violation. All of this made me happy, however, because the difficulty level on a Tuesday let me ignore the detestable word ladder.

BobtheguyinNampa 7:56 AM  

Yeah, no.
It's "chopper".

Reasonablewoman 8:02 AM  

Strange puzzle and tough for me. There was super simple stuff, ANTE, ONO, TBARS, HASON, etc. Then there were TENACIOUSD, DAALIGSHOW, BIRYANI/ERL natick, ORY. I am unclear on the meaning of green paint. Do any of these qualify?


Anonymous 8:02 AM  

Somewhere around the late 1990's I saw Tenacious D open for Jimmy Eat World at the Long Beach Arena (Auditorium?). There's a Wyland mural painted on it. Something to look at while waiting in line.
The D is a lot of fun.

When I read Lewis' quote in the Times article, it sounded like an indirect put-down of the Rex commenters: "thorniness is not welcome". His post above reminds me of a politician who stepped in it, trying to recast what he said in an effort at damage control. "What I meant to say is I LOVE thorny comments! Both groups are great!" But it's no biggie.

Suzie Q 8:10 AM  

We are used to seeing Ah Me as crap fill but today O, me reeks of desperation. @ M&A has a term for such gibberish. Hopefully he will use it today.
Sooo much pop culture. True, it is slightly tempered by Schubert, Shakespeare, and Dumas but their appearances seem like mere cameos against Jack Black etc.
Big Ape to Darwin! Great catch Loren.
Lots of garments have arm holes, not just vests.
Totally agree about Steely Dan. Yacht Rock.
Not too much fun for our Tuesday.

chefbea 8:25 AM  

Never heard of a lot of things in this puzzle...too tough for a Tuesday. Never made biryani...and never heard of it. What does WMD stand for??

Serf of Crosswords 8:26 AM  

As usual, my experience with the proper nouns was the opposite of Rex's.
TENACIOUSD and DAALIGSHOW were near gimmies (got the later with no crosses). I only know STEELYDAN from xwords, and I've never heard of Bobby Darin. I actually DNF with BOBCYCARIN crossing TCAR, convincing myself that Bob Cycarin could be a thing.

I can imagine an Indian restaurant without BIRYANI as easily as a burger joint without fries. Rex, I have eaten Biryani in Binghamton.

Vincent Lima 8:40 AM  

I think @Tom got it right:

"The criticism is against the sloppy editing for the most part, not the puzzle makers. An informed and effective editor should enhance the quality, not leading to so much mediocrity. Will needs to earn his pay."

Bruce R 8:45 AM  

I don't think I've ever been to an Indian restaurant that didn't have an entire BIRYANI menu section. Also, ALE is not necessarily a hoppy brew, but it usually is so I guess that's ok.

SJ Austin 8:47 AM  

The "R" in ERL/BIRYANI did me in today, sorry to say.

As an '80s kid whose mom was a huge M*A*S*H fan, I agree on chopper over COPTER, but it didn't slow me down.

Shawn 8:49 AM  

I read this blog and Jeff Chen’s. Jeff is critical of the puzzle but often offers suggestions for how it could have been improved. I’ve never read his criticism as being over-personalized.

I enjoy this blog because of the humor and the collective wisdom of the audience. I do roll my eyes at Rex most days. He tends to be overly critical (sometimes) of the puzzle and it does seem more personal. Take today...yes, this was not a great Tuesday offering, but one of the constructors is Latina. Rex often screams about the lack of diversity in the constructor community. Why would anyone want to construct only to get lambasted by Rex?

Anyway, just my two cents. I’ve been solving for about a tenth of the time most on here have. I always enjoy reading everyone’s comments. Love to al.

Nancy 8:54 AM  

Maybe the hardest Tuesday I've ever done. It's wonderful to have this level of challenge on this day of the week. And the fact that I didn't know either of the pop culture answers, DA ALI G SHOW and TENACIOUS D, made this even tougher for me.

Re: Rex's comment about the NYT Wordplay Blog -- here was my rejoinder to them, which they printed on yesterday's blog. As of 9 p.m. yesterday, it had garnered 8 "Likes". Must go over there and see if there are any more as of today :)

Nancy | NYC
Just read the piece about the Wordplay Blog on p.2 of my NYT. I come to you from one of the unnamed "blog[s] beyond The Times" where "critiquing the puzzle" is definitely a pastime of a great many who comment, not to mention the Blogger Himself. But even though that blog does not always adhere to Wordplay's unfailing niceness, small communities of solvers who care about each other and sometimes even become friends exist there, too. You do have to be extremely selective, but I have made many friends there and my life has definitely been enriched by the fellow solvers I've gotten to know there.

Still, Wordplay might well have been my go-to blog. Why wasn't/isn't it? It's your damned scrolling system -- which could have only been invented by the Marquis de Sade. Fix that, and you could have me as a blog regular, you lucky, lucky people :) Surely it can't be that hard to fix, can it? If Rex can devise a painless, easy-to-use scrolling system, so can The New York Times. Yes?

Teddi and Teddy 8:59 AM  

Chefbea, weapons of mass destruction.

Canon Chasuble 9:06 AM  

An easy Tuesday because the first answer I filled in was Darwin (educated guess) and all followed neatly, though I did not know a couple of the pop references (as usual) but Biryani was obvious to me, as was The Erl King. Still, I got no enjoyment at all from this puzzle, and as I finished I wondered why I had done it at all after filling in my first answer.

H777 9:16 AM  

Poor, poor Rexie...has no qualms flaming a puzzle...or a constructor, but can’t take a little criticism from the NYT.

QuasiMojo 9:23 AM  

So much to say and to comment on today but I'll try to be brief in any case. @LMS, good eye! I missed the connection between BIG APE and DARWIN. That raises the BAR in my estimation. I must confess I overthought this puzzle, thinking DNA had something to do with the evolution theme.

I also had a DNF at KINTE with KENTE. I had no idea what that Cohen show was as I've never seen it or anything with that guy in it. For the record, I've never seen FRIENDS, SNL, SEINFELD and I always changed the channel when M*A*S*H came on, even with all those lovely COPTERS, I mean CHOPPERS (although Choppers makes me think of "Big Mouth" Martha Raye selling Polident.) I did manage to see ROOTS though. So the DNF is entirely on my shoulders.

I agree with the "critique" of the PERUSAL clue. Didn't we just the other day have a clue that said PERUSE meant to pore over, or study carefully? As for TIN GOD. I wouldn't have known that but I am pretty sure it was in a puzzle just a few weeks ago. As has been ERL several times over. Yes sir, there are bonus POINTS for doing the puzzle OVERTIME.

As someone who has GOne GRAY, I felt a tinge of pride in knowing I am "embracing the aging process." My brother has pure white hair which I prefer.

Speaking of DORIAN GRAY, I read that comment by someone named LEWIS in that ludicrous self-serving NYTimes article Rex linked, and I thought it sounded like OUR Lewis, but it said he is 69! Judging by his photo here and the constant zest in his commentary, I had assumed he was a strapping young yoga teacher just starting out raising a family etc. Keep on' truckin', Lewis! (P.S. I thought your comment there was fair and tactful as are all your comments here.)

That article annoyed me a lot, not because it took issue with other blogs but because of the sickeningly saccharine prose style. It read like something you'd find in a high school newspaper from the 50s. Or perhaps Highlights magazine. Very Goofus vs. Gallant. I guess this blog is Goofus. Thank God.

GHarris 9:29 AM  

Really a bummer when you work out so many unknowns successfully only to be shot down by a totally unfair crossing at erl and biryani.

Lewis 9:33 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
pmdm 9:34 AM  

Chefbea: W eapons of M ass D estruction.

About the puzzle: Fun theme that challenged me more than usual on a Tuesday, so thumbs up.

About the Times denigration of this blog: For the most part, comments do not get censored in this blog. For that reason alone, I like this blog. But that policy comes at a price. I do feel some of the comments are over the top, as are some of the write-ups. In that sense, perhaps the squabble sounds to me a little like the pot calling the tea kettle black. Because this blog allows caustic comments aimed at the Times, perhaps it attracts an abnormal percentage of anti-Times solvers. The bottom line for me is that this blog seems to have absolutely no influence on what the Times publishes. Too bad.

Nancy: about the active/passive thing. There is a generalization that all generalizations are wrong (including this one). In general, the active voice is preferable to the passive voice. But if you want to emphasize the object, or if you aren't sure who is doing the action, sometimes the passive voice works. I really don't know who censors the readers comments for this blog, and if I want to emphasize a characteristic of the comments, I might write in the passive voice (see above). If Hercule Poirot wants to keeps people in suspense, it is important for him to say "The murder was committed by the .... butler" rather than "The butler committed the murder." The great orator Cicero understood that trick when he began his oration against Catalina. Active is usually best. But sometimes (rarely) the passive better communicates the idea. Rarely.

GILL I. 9:41 AM  

There is only one crossword blog as far as I'm concerned.... this one. I have, on occasion, read Wordplay and Deb seems like a very nice person, but her hands are tied. @Rex never holds back and yes, he can be tiresome. I come here for some honesty but mainly for my fellow bloggers.
I agree that the formatting at the other side is just plain awful. Even if it's fixed, I don't want my comments to be sugar coated. I never ever want to be mean and I'm careful not to be, but I'll be damned if I want someone scrutinizing my words and then deciding if what I say is ok. I also think the "like" button is an ego high. (sorry @Nancy, but I hate those things). Keep up the fight, @Rex. Maybe, just maybe, Will will fight harder for better puzzles with higher pay. I only wish @Leapy had stayed with us. I think she defected.

Well, John Lieb and Andrea Yanes...I thoroughly enjoyed this Tuesday workout. Hardest Tuesday all year.
Never heard of DAALIG SHOW nor TENACIOUSD. I love Indian food and yet I've never eaten nor seen BIRYANI on a menu. Wasn't Schubert's King an ELF? Yikes.
I enjoy "me time" but I'm never ALL ALONE. I have to have my pups beside me. ALE sure is getting a workout and so is SNL.

Linda Vale 9:49 AM  

This blogs “community standards” are determined by Rex - in the same way that the USA’s “community standards” are set by President Trump. (tee hee)
In this case I commend Rex for his sardonicism. He has every right to bash. We may not agree with him and his ignorant PC views. But he allows us to freely (I believe) to disagree. That is the ‘community standard’ that should be supported.
Thank you Rex. Please maintain.

gfrpeace 9:54 AM  

I made a spectacular vegetable BIRYANI for my 60th birthday party, studded with sliced boiled egg and cashews. And I bragged about it to someone who called earlier in the day to see if he should bring anything, and, appalled at my plans, he brought a large roast beef. Which everybiody ate large chunks of, treating the biryani as a side dish to have a dab of. Sigh. But I didn't have to cook for the next week and a half, I just ate BIRYANI, and it was good.

Actually the ERLkoenig was a gimme for me, too.BOBBY DARIN I guessed at. And the DAALIG SHOW, isn't that some piece of equipment from Dr. Who? That you find when you're playing with your Tardis?

Dawn Urban 9:58 AM  

Just THRILLED with this puzzle! (Thank you to the creator.) As a fifty-something, I was GRATIFIED to learn that I am embracing my aging process, because I (did) *GO GRAY*.

So, how does an elderly armchair linguist ever attempt to qualify for these exciting crossword tourneys? Bet it was SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXBEALADOCIOUS fun!

As always, thanks, Rex. And Mr. Urban and I truly enjoy your POP SENSATION website!

Mr. Benson 10:07 AM  

Agree this time with Rex on the tone of the Times column. “If a thorn shows up, they very quickly get the message thorniness is not welcome," someone is quoted as saying. That's a lousy way to run an online forum. Opinions should be all over the place.

Folks quoted in that article are 76, 69 and 79. Another is bedridden from a sprained knee, and another passed away. I'm no spring chicken myself, but I think I'd be out of place in a forum like that. That doesn't mean I support mean-spiritedness, but I do like a little feistiness, an occasional bit of contention.

QuasiMojo 10:08 AM  

@Nancy, great rejoinder! I feel the same way. Most of the time. :)

Whatsername 10:12 AM  

I was a bit surprised at the number of comments that this was more difficult than usual. Even though I was not familiar with TENACIOUSD or BIRYANI, I managed to get them with the downs and had no trouble with the rest of it. I agree the clue for copter could’ve been worded more accurately without the MASH reference, i.e. “whirlybird” or “wingless air transport.”

I followed the link that Rex so thoughtfully provided and read the entire New York Times article. It was a very interesting piece that made me want to go visit the Wordplay blog more often. The statement that “commenters often respond with attacks on puzzle makers” [here] may be a bit too harsh, but IMO it certainly does not equate to the personal level of being called trash.

@ Andy Piacsek: Dictionary.com defines PERUSE as (1) to read through with thoroughness or care; (2) to scan or browse. I looked it up not to prove you wrong, but because I agreed with you. The secondary definition was a surprise to me too.

Blue Stater 10:14 AM  

The line that got me in the NYT article OFL reproduced was "...on [sic] the Wordplay column, commenters adhere to the community standards of The Times," implying that we unwashed do not. Listen, pal: the puzzles would be a lot better if *they* adhered to the "community standards of The Times" -- the *editorial* community. That starts with running the puzzles through the Times copydesk and, to a much greater extent than is presently the case, eliminating the factual and linguistic errors that disfigure the current product. Oh, and you could make some personnel changes, too, but I digress....

jberg 10:23 AM  

My son lived in Namibia for what turned out to be two post-college GAP YEARs; at the end of the first my (now ex-) wife and I went to visit him during the Christmas break. Our itinerary included a few days of camping, so we went to a store to get food. His idea was that we could just buy 6 cans of vegetable BIRYANI and eat them cold -- he apparently did that often. We managed to amend that menu, but I could never forget BIRYANI after that.

And there's some Halldor Laxness novel where some guy who's left Iceland and become a celebrity singer elsewhere keeps starting rumors that he will sing "The Erl King" from a balcony (he turns out to be a bit of a phony), so that cross didn't bother me.

@Loren, loved your avatar! I had the same thought until I stared at it a little longer and noticed that you could parse out ALI G.

@lewis, hey, watch those spoilers!

Nancy 10:26 AM  

@GILL (9:41) -- I agree with you wholeheartedly about awfulness of the "Like" button. That's why I put a little ":)" after my sentence about going to Wordplay and seeing how many "Likes" I got. Thought everyone would "get" the joke but maybe not.

From the standpoint of the "Likee", it's the perfect metaphor for our Age of Narcissism. How many people like me? How many followers do I have? Me, me, me. It's one of the aspects of Facebook (which I've never been on) that seems most pernicious. But it's not just the "Likee" whose motives are unattractive. It's also the "Liker". How much thought, effort, or even sincerity does it take to click on a "Like" button? C'mon! If you really like something, write a line or two directly to the person whose *whatever* it is you like, and say so! Tell them why you like it. Say something personal and meaningful, rather than indulge in meaningless cyberspace shortcuts because you have no time to write individually to your thousands of social media "friends". A long-winded way of saying that I agree entirely with @GILL.

@pmdm (9:34) -- Absolutely love your Hercule Poirot passive voice example. For my money, you couldn't have picked a more apt example. But as you know, rules are meant to be broken.

RooMonster 10:31 AM  

Hey All !
Well, having never eaten in an Indian restaurant, and not knowing anythingShubert, this DARIN confirms that as a Natick. Caused an alphabet run/DNF. What an ARMHOLE answer. :-D

Lots of threes, 25, and lots of iffy initialisms. NMI? Yikes. We get ETA, ETD, ETS. Haven't seen, but have heard of DA ALI G SHOW, however, couldn't see it in puz, wanted DAiLy_SHOW, but as you see, one letter short. Said to myself, what is the DAALIG SHOW? Har.

Did like ala @LMS that each progression was a separate word, D, DA, DAN, DARN, DARIN. Nice.

As ONEONE who is starting to GOGRAY (at least the hair I have left) exposing my CRANIA, I resent that entry! :-)

Ever heard of the DARWIN Award? It's for people who die in stupid ways. Check out this site (hopefully!)


Z 10:33 AM  

I'm with Rex with really liking the DARWIN reveal. I'm solving the puzzle wondering, "why the heck are we adding letters willy-nilly," and then I hit the bottom and go, "nicely done." Too bad the fill has so much crappy ese.

@Lewis and others - Uh - No SPOILERS please!!!

Peruse is an autoantonym. So it can mean to read very closely and it can mean to read quickly. Damn English Language and it's frequent requirement that one read critically to understand a writer's intent.

I've known a few TIN GODs, a term I always associate with police officers. I worked with quite a few police officers over the years and the majority of them were dedicated and caring public servants. But the career attracts more than its fair share of people with power issues. I can count on one hand the times I had to invoke my positional authority, and three of those times involved needing to control a police officer. Yep. It's those relatively few encounters that leads me to accept the stories from groups like Black Lives Matter.

@Anonymous8:02 - Having had lunch with @Lewis, let me reassure you that you can take his comments at face value. Or feel slighted, totally up to you (BTW - @Lewis - we are overdue).

As for the NYT article, I commented on it yesterday and my view hasn't changed. Page 2 and 3 are basically advertising for the rest of the paper (today it's the story behind the Elon Musk interview. Yawn.). It's not actually a news story. The, probably unintended, dig by the writer at Rex and Crossword Fiend is interesting more in what it says about the NYT, Shortz, and the WordPlay community than what it says about us. I get why people might feel slighted but I'm good with that group of crossword lovers enjoying their anodyne and sanitized blog. As for the notion that we "attack constructors," I can count on one hand the times Rex has edged into an attack on the constructor. The puzzle, yep. Shortz, yep. The constructor, never really, but I could point to a few that could be read that way. I also have noted personal attacks on everyone but Rex get deleted by the mods. Here's what Rex says about the community standards here: 8. Why was my comment deleted (you jackass)?

Take your pick: a. you were rude to someone, b. you were way off-topic, or c. you were talking about tomorrow's puzzle (you jackass).

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

I'm not sure which is sadder, your thin skin or the fact that you don't know enough Kipling to know tin gods. You are one poorly read English professor. And a cry baby. If only there were a term for a pompous self important person....
"Pleasant it is for the Little Tin Gods
When great Jove nods;
But Little Tin Gods make their little mistakes
In missing the hour when great Jove wakes.”

Your pal,


Lieb And yates,

Any puzzle w Steely Dan, Kid Ory and Bobby Darin is music to my ears. Was it a good puzzle, my wife asked. You're darn tootin I told her.

jhg 10:36 AM  

The half-translated ERL clue was pretty awful. Cluing it with the German title (Erlkönig) instead of English wouldn't have helped if you don't already know the Goethe poem or the Schubert setting of it (in addition to which you can't really clue a FITB with a compound foreign word, since "Erlkönig" isn't separated like the English). But it threw me off nonetheless – I've heard "Der Erlkönig" performed a number of times, but with the half-translated clue it was a complete mystery until the BIRYANI crossing filled it in.

Amelia 10:37 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cassieopia 10:42 AM  

DAALIG SHOW was the nail in the coffin for me. I kept wanting the Daily Show. So this was very hard for me, but really enjoyed the challenge after yesterday’s snooze fest. @LMS thanks for pointing out BIGAPE/DARWIN! Very cool.

I love this blog and love the commenters here. I’ve not even tried the other blogs. I’m always in awe of ANYONE who can craft a crossword puzzle, but it is nice to have a forum where legitimate criticism can be expressed about a particular puzzle. And the commenters here are so knowledgeable - I have learned an absolute ton. Thank you all.

Cassieopia 10:43 AM  

@LMS again - just noticed your avatar. Nice touch especially appreciated since that’s where I DNF.

Anonymous 11:02 AM  

I actually liked this puzzle quite a bit. However, It’s worth pointing out, if previous commenters haven’t, that “perusal” actually means a careful, detailed reading not a “casual reading” as clued in 11 down. That’s unforgivably sloppy.

Anonymous 11:09 AM  

Just a little reality check as you all compare this blog with others.
This one is more edgy but there is a fuzzy line that a few have crossed only to be run off by Rex and some commenters here.
There are quite a few interesting and entertaining voices who have fled the blog.

Joseph Michael 11:17 AM  

With DAALIGSHOW crossing ORY and ERL crossing BIRYANI and with a ton of three-letter dreck like ETD, ETA, OME, and ONO, this puzzle leaves a lot to be desired.

The evolution theme from BIG APE to DARWIN was cute and I like the unpredictable pattern in which the D evolved, but for me as a troglodyte commenter from beyond The Times, it wasn’t worth what happened to the rest of the grid. The nadir for me was NMI which I guess stands for No Middle Initial. Someone please pass the bucket.

The NYT article linked above fails to mention that the unnamed blog of ill repute is by far the most interesting crossword blog around. Though Rex’s comments can at times leave me annoyed or just plain flabbergasted, I always look forward to what he has to say. And the community of commenters that he has attracted is a smart witty bunch who always give me something to think about or laugh about. Thank you all for making my day.

timjim 11:17 AM  

"xwordinfo is *not* independent" -- How so?

Banana Diaquiri 11:40 AM  

I guess this hokey, feel-good nonsense is how they distract solvers from the embarrassingly low constructor pay, the sexist / racist fill that the editor has included and defended over the years, et cetera et cetera.

apparently the Failing New York Times has learned the 'look at this other shiny object' lesson from The Orange King. birds of a feather, and all that.

simon 11:50 AM  

Anybody who's never heard of biryani, "despite having been to many Indian restaurants", is too myopic or clueless to pontificate on anything.

Banana Diaquiri 11:51 AM  

back to pmdm/Nancy:

the active/passive issue, IIRC, differs between fiction and essay. in fiction one mixes voice, subjunctive, tense, and the rest to a narrative purpose. the critic/reader may disagree with the result, of course. in essay the rule is active unless there is extraordinary reason. JMTC

Anonymous 12:07 PM  

Listen, if Asian rivers, 1920's pop stars, 1950's politicians and opera references of any kind are not obscure, then it's ludicrous to suggest that biryani is obscure. A staple on both Indian and Middle Eastern menus. I heartily recommend giving it a try. It's delicious.

Larry 12:12 PM  

Gee its not just in the in-house crossword blogs that the Times preens and disses others.

Masked and Anonymous 12:21 PM  

DARWIN's version of the word ladder! Different. I dig different. I also dig desperation, which this BIGAPE had a treasure trove of. Sooo … entertainin rodeo, in my book. Had everything except the lil monkey ridin in on the dog. thUmbsUp.

Near-themeless-grid-lookin corners, too. And seven theme-related entries. Dang, this TuesPuz really went for it. Kinda feel bad for that there singer, tho … on account of the theme mcguffin sorta has the BIGAPE evolve into BOBBYDARIN. The constructioneers evidently ain't big "Splish Splash" fans.

staff weeject picks: the ETS/ETA/ETD trifecta (yo, @Roo). This already has got many Comment Gallery admirers, I see. Almost a word ladder subtheme … wow, look at all this good runty stuff in here...
Speakin of Ow de Speration (yo, @Suzie Q), let's go ahead and break owt the bullets ...

* OME. har. Temptin, to replace NER with this, as M&A's all-time fave weeject. Especially with that fab Queen Gertrude clue. Luv it.
* CAPN/NCAA/NARC/CNN/ACA five wonders of the abbrev world zone. Awesomely consistent.
* AA. This puz has two nice double-A moments. Eye-catchin. Stink-eye-catchin, even.
* ONEONE. Relative of AA. Coulda gone for splatzin in ONEAONEA or AONEAONE somewhere else, to get another primo trifecta. But that is too D-DA-DAN-DARN much to ask this sweet lil heart-in-the-right-place puz to produce.

fave "normal-er" fillins: EARTAG + ARMHOLES. CASSETTE. IRONMAN + GAPYEAR. ATECROW + BIRYANI [M&A wonders aloud: Can BIRYANI have Indian crow meat in it?]. PERUSAL. TINGOD/GOGRAY.

Wow again, and thanx for the feisty fun, Mr. Lieb and Ms. Yanes with a tilda sign.

Masked & AnonymoUUs


Tim Aurthur 12:34 PM  

Note in the OED re "peruse":

"Modern dictionaries and usage guides, perhaps influenced by the word's earlier history in English, have sometimes claimed that the only ‘correct’ usage is in reference to reading closely or thoroughly (cf. senses 4a, 4b). However, peruse has been a broad synonym for read since the 16th cent., encompassing both careful and cursory reading; Johnson defined and used it as such. The implication of leisureliness, cursoriness, or haste is therefore not a recent development, although it is usually found in less formal contexts and is less frequent in earlier use (see quot. 1589 for an early example). The specific sense of browsing or skimming emerged relatively recently, generally in ironic or humorous inversion of the formal sense of thoroughness."

Cassieopia 12:45 PM  

@M&A your posts are exhibit one for why I like this blog, and this one was LOL-worthy: “Had everything except the lil monkey riding in on the dog” Thanks for the day-brightener!

Masked and Anonymous 12:49 PM  

And congratz to Andrea Y. darlin, on her halfpuz-debut. Good job.


Tim Aurthur 12:56 PM  

Franz Schubert submitted his song "The Erlking" to Breitkopf and Hartel in 1817. Unbeknownst to him, there was another musician named Franz Schubert living in Dresden at the time. The publisher rejected the song and returned it to the Dresden Schubert, who wrote an indignant letter back wanting to know who would have the impertinence to misuse his name in sending them "such trash." This is the only reason the Dresden Schubert is mentioned today in musical dictionaries.

Teedmn 1:20 PM  

I had fun with this puzzle, starting with CRANIA. "Skulls, skulls are skulls, what could start with C..., aha!" I love it when that happens. COMBATS went right in off the C also.

I always thought it was D'Ali G Show so that DAA starting 26A had me checking crosses (as opposed to counting CROWs.) I considered "TIN hat" but decided that was what paranoid types wear, not a minor official. I hesitated and then filled in the rest of TEN_______OUS D at 21A. I'm not a fan but I've heard of the duo. On the other hand, I've loved STEELY DAN since 'Rikki, Don't Lose That Number". I owned the 45 of that song, don't even remember what was on the B side. Ah, Wikipedia tells me it was "Any Major Dude Will Tell You". I don't think I was old enough to appreciate that song back in 1973 (I was 13).

I had a great time at Lollapuzzoola this past weekend so I can join Rex in urging people to check it out. I talked to a new solver and rookie tournament goer in the check-in line. I asked him if he ever read the Rex blog. He said he had tried a couple of blogs other than Wordplay (couldn't remember whose) but found them too negative. I tried to convince him that the comments were worth it but he has a small child at home, probably won't happen. After the tourney, I asked what he thought - he said he thought it was fun.

Thanks, Lieb and Yanes (sorry about the missing tilde) and congrats, Andrea, on the debut.

JC66 1:25 PM  


I was at Lollapuzzoola, too. Said hello to @rex. Sorry I missed meeting you in person.

Anonymous 1:31 PM  

Rex is having a hissy fit on twitter about yesterdays article in the Times. It's epic, hysterical and well worth perusing.

Girish 1:35 PM  

you say you want some evolution...
oh..ooh...we’d all love to see your name...

Teedmn 1:36 PM  

@JC66, sorry to have missed you too. I guess I should have checked in the rankings for other Rexites I knew lived in NYC but I assumed I must have met them all. That was my 3rd Lolla, so maybe next year...

Azzurro 1:44 PM  

PERUSAL made me cringe. The NYT should not perpetuate incorrect usage. As Rex often points out, it often seems that no one is editing these puzzles.

Anoa Bob 1:48 PM  

Just for the record, neither DARWIN nor any other member of Homo sapiens evolved from an APE, BIG or otherwise. We and all our fellow primates evolved from and share a common ancestor. Evolution is more like an ever-branching tree than a straight line process, even though we still see the monkey-to-ape-to-human image in contemporary media, sometimes humorously so, like this one.

Adding an S or an ES isn't the only way to bust a word's grid fill power via the Plural Of Convenience, to wit, tacking on an E at the end of AREOLA (an S would also work here) does the trick.

Cassieopia 1:53 PM  

@Amelia thanks for the suggestion on WSJ Pop-Up Books puzzle, I was able to access it even though I’m not a subscriber. You were right - absolutely excellent puzzle.

GILL I. 2:05 PM  

@Nancy...Knowing how you think......I should have known your "Like" was tongue-in-cheek.
I confess to using them on Facebook - especially when my British family posts pictures of their travels. When there is a family baby, they get the "Love" ..... :-)

Crimson Devil 2:07 PM  

As a relatively new kid on this block/g, this one was well-above my pay grade: daaligshow, biryani, erl, tingods, never seen eartag on wildlife (cows, yes), and tenaciousd sounds like Devils’ bball.
Enjoyed the lesson.

Amelia 2:19 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
tea73 2:21 PM  

I figured since it said "___ King" not "Koenig" they were asking for the English and wrote Elf. Annoyed when it was indeed ERL. Went to Google and see that it appears as ERL king when they translate the title and Elf King when they translate the lyrics. Weird.

Anoa Bob 2:23 PM  

Oops, looks like AREOLAE had me thinking about something else when I wrote in "bust" rather than "boost". Hey, how about a new line at Victoria's Secret called the Bust Booster?

toby 2:23 PM  

I liked this blog a whole load better when it wasn’t just complaining about the full. Go back to fun snarky comments and info about the answers. Much more fun to read than “wha wha wha” have you lost your cleverness?

Today’s puzzle was hard but it’s pop culture clues crossed many generations and genres. Makes it interesting f for everyone.

Crimson Devil 2:29 PM  

...and peruse as verb is contranym, just like sanction, which is the worst.

Anonymous 3:02 PM  

A statement like as radical as "xwordinfo is *not* independent" needs to have some facts to back it up. How the heck is it not independent? The Times seems to have no control over it whatsoever. Jeff Chen seems to say what he thinks, unencumbered by any kind of oversight. Do you know something we don't?

Anon 3:09 PM  

See, I think because this is a crossword clue is WHY it matters that MASH was referenced. Yes, technically they could also have been called copters but MASH made a specific point of (almost!) always calling them choppers. As solvers we're supposed to be drawing on our linguistic and pop culture knowledge, so it just seems a poor choice to use this particular show as the clue, especially on a Tuesday. I believe it speaks to the overall quality problem Rex often points out.

Anonymous 3:20 PM  

Michael Sharp's comment that the NYT called commentators on this blog trash is exactly the same as Trump's Us-Against-Them stir-up-the-base technique. And like Trump, it makes him look like a nasty, petty, egotistical blowhard.

IF the paper was referring to this blog, it would be referring to you Mr. Sharp because as a whole, the commentators rarely if ever attack the constructor.

This is painful to observe, painful to say, and painful to see that no one else seems to have noticed.

Has everyone in this country had a swig of the Kool-Aid?

Anonymous 3:30 PM  

I, too, would like an explanation of why XWordInfo is not independent. I have read many a negative Jeff Chen review but none that were nasty.

I also would like an explanation of why Rex's criticism of a puzzle is not a criticism of the constructor as well. After all, the puzzle didn't construct itself. When Rex goes off on a rant and tears a puzzle to pieces, is this not directed at the constructor? Maybe I'm missing something and if I am, I would welcome being so informed.

G. Weissman 4:38 PM  

Green paint is when the relation to the two words (noun and adj, typically) is random, or is not “a thing” (e.g. green beans). Why green paint? Because blue paint wouldn’t fit, nor would green shirt. Par three verges on being green paint; it’s not if it’s widely known that par three is the norm for whatever that hole is at whatever golf contest that is.

G. Weissman 4:41 PM  

The important distinction is between direct and indirect criticism. If I criticize your post, you may feel criticized indirectly. If I criticize you for writing a post, that’s direct. There’s a real difference here. I may have criticisms of your post but would not extend them to you; still, you might feel personally attacked.

Anonymous 4:45 PM  

XWordInfo is independent. Rex is a liar. He knows full well that it is.
Sharp has a hair on his ass regarding The Times in general and Will Shortz in particular. It's his blog, he can rant and besmirch and lie to hs heart's content. Who's going to stop him?

foxaroni 4:54 PM  

I never had a chance to GOGRAY. It all fell out too fast. :-(

Be still, my aching heart--@Serf of Crosswords says he/she NEVER HEARD of Bobby Darin. Ye Gods, am I THAT old?

No one seems to have mentioned that Sasha Baron Cohen is on the front page of today's NYTIMES Arts section. "Da Ali G Show" is mentioned when the story continues on page four.

@Roo Monster--"What an ARMHOLE answer." LOL! I laughed out loud.

Hand up for never liking Steely Dan, except maybe for "Reelin' in the Years." Everything else seemed to me to be minor-key whining.

Loved the puzzle. Congrats to the constructors.

Joe 6:45 PM  

I got most of the pop culture references, and still found this hard. As for the Times article: “Focus on critiquing”? (1) Isn’t that the function of a free press? and (2) I’m an English professor. It’s what I do for a living.

Elise 9:40 PM  

Maybe it's the nytimes piece making me feel like I want to contribute to this forum, but I feel the need to share my perspective as a 33yo female. I can name you half a dozen Tenacious D songs and quote you Ali G, but I can name maybe 1 Steely Dan song or Bobby Darin song, neither being the songs that were clued. Also I remember the Das Erl Konig being taught in high school. The full in this was terrible, but Biryani was fine as a thing I'm familiar with. I finished in 7:41 which I think is about average for a Tuesday, so not a high level solver but probably halfway respectable.

Mike 9:49 PM  

Grey with an E for English spelling. Gray with an A for American spelling.

Anonymous 11:27 PM  

G. Weissman ~ I make no distinction between direct or indirect criticism. Rex criticizes a puzzle, therefore he is criticizing the constructor. He has every right to do so but don't try to minimize or rationalize his intentions.

Uke Xensen 1:54 AM  

This seemed easy to me. But then, I buy biryani rice at Trader Joe's.

TomAz 1:54 AM  

I am very late to this party, Wednesday is already done. But I been bizzy.

BIRYANI is wonderful, I have eaten it in its hometown of Hyderabad, it is delicious and everyone should have some before they die. I dropped it in without hesitation. But, it has no business being in the Tuesday puzzle -- this criticism is valid. (I never saw ERL cuz I got all the crosses).

TENACIOUS D and DA ALI G SHOW also fell in instantly for me, but again, this is not Tuesday material.

I finished in about 1.2 Rexes, which is probably a record for me. But it's mostly just wheelhouse luck.

As for the NYT piece -- I do not recall anyone here ever personally criticizing a constructor. Despite what Anonymous @11:27 just above says, finding fault in someone's work is not at all the same thing as finding fault in someone. That's just bizarre.

TomAz 2:15 AM  

I have more to add.

The NYT is full of critics. Movies, music, theater, arts, food, politics.. they praise and they pan as they see fit. But not in the rainbow happy land of their xword blog and comments.

I think Rex pans too many puzzles. But at least he is taking them seriously, as do the commenters here. Better that than some blithe, bland, upbeat BS.

Clueless 9:11 AM  

The NYT is delivered to my apartment.

One day, being clueless, I searched via google for help & found "Rex Parker"

Weeks later I noticed a link to this

Months later I figured out how comments here are dated so early in the morning.

It isn't until these comments & the NYT article appeared that I was aware of Wordplay.

All this to say, although I may be Clueless, both "Rex" & this place to comment are fun.

Alex 11:30 AM  

I beat my all-time record on this puzzle (even including Mondays)!! Solved it in 1:55!

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

The gall of cluing "WMD" with "Iraq War concern" in the New York Times of all places.

G. Weissman 6:31 PM  

I didn’t try, and care not what you think of his intentions in any case. But it’s simply moronic to deny the distinction. When a film critic pans a movie, is she panning the filmmaker? Your refusal to think in anything other than reductive black and white terms is unfortunate.

Space Is Deep 7:49 PM  

BIRYANI? I eat in Indian restaurants all the time and it's been on EVERY single menu I've seen.

spacecraft 10:37 AM  

DNF: DNEGOOTGDNW. That's "Didn't Even Get Out Of The God Damn NW."

Of course, this non-techie had NO IDEA what 1-down could be. BCC?? What the hell is that, Buried Carbon Copy or something? Sheesh. I had ANTE and NYE; wanted PIE--which I'd like to throw at today's constructors--but couldn't make sense out of ___AP_ for "Galoot." Turns out it's BIGAPE. That's not a galoot, to me. I stopped following minor superheroes a few decades ago, so that was another unknown. Wanted [some kind of] YEAR off the Y of NYE, but what? I mean, to all but the 1%, the "hiatus" between high school and college is that summer. I have heard of the silver-spoon set taking "a year abroad" and all that, but what to call it? No clue.

And this is TUESDAY, ferchrissake! Oh, by the way: to us Synders:


This rant isn't over. After looking at the solution, I saw that EVEN IF I could have made it out of the (&%#*() NW, I just would have DNF'ed further down the line. That comedy duo? Totally ungettable. And as for that Cohen guy, I'm actually PROUD that I don't know anything about him! How he EVER succeeded is one of the most confounding mysteries of our time.

Seems I made a BIG error yesterday complaining about early-week puzzles being too easy. I'm sorry; I take it all back. Just please, don't put anything like this in front of me again.


thefogman 10:37 AM  

Yeah! I finished with no erasures. Yes OFL is right, some of the fill was a bit iffy but nonetheless I liked the overall solving experience. Maybe it's because I challenged myself and took the time to be extra careful so as not to commit any writeovers.
Is Rex saying the NYT owns Jeff Chen's blog (XWord Info)? If so, it doesn't stop Jeff from being critical/informative. Maybe not to Rex's level, but that would be hard and it doesn't make Jeff's site any less valid. Don't get me wrong, I like Rex - thorns and all. His prickliness used to bug me, but now I get it and I hope he doesn't tone it down - not even a bit. He should take it as a badge of honour the NYT took a swipe at him. Would he be happier if they were praising him? I think not. Let the others praise the machine. Keep on ragin' Rex.

Burma Shave 10:56 AM  


he grabbed ONTO IRONMAN's cape,


BS2 11:02 AM  

Wait . . . did TomAZ just call me "some blithe, bland, upbeat BS."?

rondo 11:18 AM  

A MIN. of 24 threes, many of them abbr.s, even some four letter abbr.s and pref.s. Yikes. All for a DARWIN word ladder. OK then.

Multi platinum winner yeah baby TERI Garr makes an appearance.

Did this in the dentist's waiting room. Which was worse? At least the puz had STELLYDAN and BOBBYDARIN.

centralscrewtinizer 12:27 PM  

Yes, great catch by @LMS on BIG APE, which is wonderfully paired with CRANIA. Also grateful for the TENACIOUS D explanation. I wondered why it sounded 'in the language'.
I had DA ALI G SHOW at first, but changed the L to b, thinking a bOSS was some obscure NHL thing, even though the logic of an overtime loss getting some recognition point wise in a season made sense. So a DNF.
Really great Tuesday.

thefogman 1:15 PM  

PS - I just read on Jeff Chen's site that Andrea Yañes teaches a course on evolution and this is her debut puzzle in the NYT. So kudos to Andrea for creating this evolutionary-themed puzzle.

PPS - Did anyone do the Monday New Yorker xword yesterday? REALLY tough. DNF's because of the nasty (and unfair) NE corner. Those of you who tried it will know what I mean.

Diana,LIW 2:36 PM  

Sorry, @Spacey, but BCC (blind CARVON copy) has been around at least since I went to Katie Gibbs' secretarial school (for college grads!) in 1974. Not very techie at all. And yes - change the *&^% date from Sunday!!!!

This puz 'twas tougher than the average Tuesday, but still fairly easy. Yes, I didn't know some of the PPP (or at least didn't recognize DA ALI G SHOW) and ended up with a dnf via my guess of TOSS vs. LOSS. well well - will hockey never cease to amaze...

At least I'm over my snit from yesterday, when I wrangled (and sorta lost) with the car salesman from *&^%. Thought I'd be celebrating a new auto today, but 'twas not to be. O ME.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords, and a new car

rainforest 3:30 PM  

Rainforest here with some blithe, bland, upbeat BS (not you @Burma Shave).

I really got into this puzzle's "different" vibe and was having a great time until I ran into the ERL/BIRYANI cross. Funny because I have eaten many times in Indian/Thai/Vietnamese restaurants and do not remember ever seeing that item on a menu.
Thus, a DNF - rats. First in a while, I think.

Nevertheless, I thought the theme was brilliant, culminating in one of my heroes, and including on centre stage with STEELY DAN, one of my favourite bands, if you can call a duo a band.

I can't overlook eternal yeah baby/DOD Teri Garr (Canadian), and the immensely talented Jack Black, even though I've never heard of TENACIOUSD.

I don't know what the NYT article said, but I'd just like to say I like this site for the many commenters whose insights I very much appreciate. Of course, if I went to Wordplay, I might actually know what I'm talking about.

leftcoastTAM 3:39 PM  

Getting the DARWIN letter-progression was fairly easy, but the SE corner was otherwise tough-going.

There, the BIRYANI/ERL cross was a classic Natick. Guessed wrong with an "L" instead of an "R".

The overall puzzle? Not a Tuesday. A Wednesday or even a Friday, maybe?

Diana,LIW 4:18 PM  

Obvious typo above - carbon, not carvon. yeah

And double dnf - left the R out of the ERL/BIRYANI Natick.

Lady Di

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