Singleton baseball lingo / SUN 10-7-18 / Minuscule cutesily / Each o of bogo / Coinage during 2008 presidential election / Middle earth denizen / Poet who originated phrase harmony in discord / Literally great Os / Some see-through curtains

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Constructor: Tom McCoy

Relative difficulty: Challenging by the clock, but it felt more Medium-Challenging, and also I've had a drink (12:52)

THEME: "MIND THE GAP" — self-referential answers that involve first word being interrupted in some way by a random circled letter, e.g. R(S)AIL SPLITTER, where "S" is a literal "splitter" of the word "rail"—the circled letters spell SQUARE PEG

Theme answers:
  • R(S)AIL SPLITTER (22A: Another nickname for Old Abe ...)
  • OUT(Q)ER SPACE (27A: Astronaut's place ...)
  • RO(U)OM DIVIDER (42A: Screen or partition ...)
  • NA(A)SAL CAVITY (51A: Where decongestant spray goes ...)
  • SECUR(R)ITY BREACH (64A: Cyberexpert's worry ...)
  • PA(E)PER CUTTER (84A: Office device ...)
  • S(P)AFE CRACKER (90A: Heist figure ...)
  • LUCK(E)Y BREAK (106: Bit of good fortune ...)
  • GRAN(G)D OPENING (114A: Store banner ...)
Word of the Day: ERNST Mach (13D: Physicist Mach) —
Ernst Waldfried Josef Wenzel Mach (/ˈmɑːx/German: [ˈɛɐ̯nst max]; 18 February 1838 – 19 February 1916) was an Austrian physicist and philosopher, noted for his contributions to physics such as study of shock waves. The ratio of one's speed to that of sound is named the Mach number in his honor. As a philosopher of science, he was a major influence on logical positivism and American pragmatism. Through his criticism of Newton's theories of space and time, he foreshadowed Einstein's theory of relativity. (wikipedia)
• • •

Not gonna spend much time on this one because I just didn't enjoy it. I think the theme is clever, but solving it was a drag, both because of the unchecked squares (which ultimately weren't unchecked, I guess, but whatever) and because of the annoying fill and vague clues. Just no fun. I also found this one ridiculously hard to get started on. I blame EPIZOA (!?!?) (18A: External parasites) and also UZI, which, guns, ugh, stop. In the same category of Ugh, Stop, only moreso: NOBAMA (98A: Coinage during the 2008 presidential election). Screw you. Shove your Tea Party rhetoric up [r e d a c t e d]. There. Phew, that felt good. OK, back to this mirthless, too-cute-for-its-own-good puzzle. I finished with an error, sort of. I just couldn't be bothered to look at all the circled squares; if I had, I would've seen my error, which was ARF for 116D: Scottie's warning (GRR). You'll note that the first letter of that answer is one of the aforementioned "unchecked squares," and the last letter is in the stupid answer SHEERS (122A: Some see-through curtains). I figured SHEEFS was some stupid technical ... curtain .... term? It's not like SHEERS, plural (!?), is much better. It's such an AARGH suckfest down there. Again, the whole self-referential theme gag was cute, and since the letters in SQUARE PEG all appear in circles, i.e. round holes, I guess that is also clever, but not the kind of clever that is genuinely impressive. More the kind that makes me go "oh ... [forced grin] ... I see what you did. Great."

My greatest delight re: this puzzle came when I had just finished writing "40 YEARS!" in the margin of my printed puzzle (as in "I've been following baseball for 40 YEARS and have never once heard a SOLO HOMER referred to as a "singleton") (5D: What a "singleton" is, in baseball lingo) and all of a sudden I get a Twitter DM from an actual sports broadcaster informing me, and I quote, "I played baseball in college, worked for multiple minor league teams as a p/b/p man, and have covered MLB since 1995, and not one time have I heard anyone call a solo HR a 'Singleton.'" The clue, as he goes on to say, is baffling. Get things right or don't get them. How hard is it, really?

Five things:
  • 83A: Clutch (BROOD) — is this, like, about hens or something? I thought BROOD was the actual chicks but a "clutch" was a group of eggs. And there are so many clues for BROOD. But we get ... this. Delightful.
  • 101A: "Spider-Man" baddie (DOC OCK) — careful with the parsing on that one
  • 91D: "Aw, nuts!" ("FOO!") — no dumb bad stop please
  • 45D: Publisher's announcement ("IT'S OUT") — again, no, no way, uh uh, in no universe, etc. You'd sooner say this of a SOLO HOMER. Well, *you* might say "IT'S OUT," casually, if a friend asked whether your book had been published yet. But a *publisher* would not "announce" the publication this way.
  • 87A: "That's my intention" ("I PLAN TO") — I had "I MEAN TO," so that hurt. I also had LEAK for CLOG (108D: Problem for a plumber), but that didn't last long
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Unknown 12:11 AM  

82D explanation, please?

TomAz 12:23 AM  

I've been following baseball for 47 years and I have never heard the term singleton used to refer to a SOLO HOMER either. Eventually it was inferable but holy moly.

I also agree with Rex, this puzzle was something of a chore. I figured the circled letters had to spell something, but ugh. The final answer was fine but getting there was not all that fun.

TOWAGE, google tells me, is an actual word, but TOWing would have been so much better there. TSETSE flies are an issue in East Africa, sure, but much more so in the thicker vegetation of sub-Saharan West Africa. I have never heard someone say FOO in the sense of "aw, nuts"; and crossing DOCOCK? that's godawful.

Lilac and lavender are ODORS? "a distinctive smell, especially an unpleasant one." Lilac and lavender and generally pleasant. I don't know if the constructor thought he was being cute, but to me as a solver, it comes across more as dumb.

Jyqm 12:27 AM  

Think old commercials where the product being advertised is compared against “Brand X.”

Randy (Boulder) 12:34 AM  

Anybody else get tripped up by the cross at I PLAN sO and NOsE ("Bill")? Seems S and T are both legit in that square.

Took me forever to ferret that out.

Robin 12:45 AM  

The only singleton I've ever heard of in baseball was Ken.

Anyway, played medium for me, or even slightly easy-medium

Joel 12:49 AM  

This puzzle was hot garbage on so many levels. Bad fill with bad cluing making bad crosses. Amongst the worst puzzles I've done in a while.

Anonymous 1:10 AM  

FOO. Ugh, the worst.

David G. 1:38 AM  

@calmansnoffelevich - In TV advertising 40-50 years ago, they would say, “Let’s see how your Tide detergent (or whatever) does against Brand X,” and hold up a clearly recognizable box of a leading competitor. So Brand X was the unidentifiable competing brand in the commercial. I’m surprised Rex didn’t rail on this horrible clue.

puzzlehoarder 2:19 AM  

I got my share of puzzling out of this but it doesn't make up for FOO. I don't know where the constructor pulled this definition for that entry from but he needs to stick it back there immediately and leave it there.

I didn't used to do Sundays so I had no chance of seeing DOCOCK on it's one previous appearance. If you knew that FOO wouldn't be a problem but it would still be just as wrong. Other than that single letter dnf everything else went in just fine.

jae 2:30 AM  

Easy-medium. Liked it more than @Rex did but there was an annoying quality to the theme.

Anonymous 2:43 AM  

I get the "SQUARE PEG" in a round hole thing, but what does square peg have to do with anything here? It just doesn't seem to have much to do with the rest of the theme. I suppose you can say that the letters don't belong there and are awkwardly jammed in. Is this a meta-criticism the puzzle is making of itself?

Unknown 2:45 AM  

"BRAND X" is a placeholder brand in lieu of actual brands, e.g.: Brand X detergent instead of Tide or Gain. It seems to be a TV thing when, for whatever reason, the producers didn't want to (or couldn't) use real-life brands.

Dolgo 2:56 AM  

Mostly routine, but I agreed with Rex on almost all of his cavils. He didn't mention OY VEY. IvI' almost always seen it spelled "Oy veh," despite the fact that the former is closer to normal English spelling for the phonetcs involved. This causes me to wonder why it's normally spelled that way (assuming that's everybody else's experience). Probably because non-Yiddish speakers don't use a stop with their tongue against the back of the roof of the mouth (alveolar stop?--I forget my grad school intro to linguistics). I'm trying to remember other traditional non-phonetic spellings of foreign words. They are on the tip of my tongue (hee hee!).

Lewis 5:53 AM  
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Lewis 5:54 AM  

Oh, the heck with minding the gap. Just stop worrying about it. Develop a lacuna matata spirit.

Loren Muse Smith 5:56 AM  

The first full themer I got was GRAND OPENING, and with the G circled, I was figuring something different was going on what with G being the “opening” of that phrase. Oops.

Lots of missteps:

-- like Rex, “I mean to” before I PLAN TO

--“moist” for RAINY And I sat and wondered for the bajillionth time why I’m not supposed to like the word moist.

--“emptiness” then “blackness” for BLANKNESS. Ahem. DRAW A BLANK or some such coulda been a themer.

--“lolls” before LOAFS.

--“series” before SEPTET

--“towing” before TOWAGE. @TomAz – I agree. Not sure I’ve ever heard that word. If you have cats who’re all vocal and stuff, is your house full of meowage?

I liked the OUTER SPACE over PLANET over MARS deal
@TomAz again – I know, right? For me, lavender and lilac aren’t ODORs; they’re scents. Men’s Brut cologne has an ODOR. Bug spray has an ODOR. And the granddaddy of ODORs: a sour towel or washcloth. If you’ve used one, please don’t get near me. I think my NASAL CAVITies are extra-sensitive to this one, and I just cannot abide it. But… I guess you and I don’t get to be the boss of what is a scent and what is an odor. Hah. ODOR is in the eye of the behodor.

I was gonna joke about BEER crossing Brett, but if you come down off the B and turn left, it sure does. OY VEY.

Facing another sticky, sweltering day. Man oh man do I look forward to colder weather and snowage.

'mericans in Paris 6:05 AM  

We mostly completed this one yesterday evening, but still had a few gaps. Mainly we were fooled by the spelled out ampersand at 28D, and for the longest time had pANDAS. That would make sense (I hope) to anybody who is old enough to recall early Sino-BRAND X diplomacy. Every easing of tensions between China and a western economy was followed by a gift of a real live pANDA. To ERR, at least is human.

Also had UPend at 2D until I saw MEL as the counterpart of Brooks. I should have seen that sooner, as he's the guy who once told me "You have no taste!"

For 87A I first slotted in "I want TO", which mrs. 'mericans then changed to "I meAN TO", before we got it right AFTER ALL.

We were a bit surprised with @Rex's criticisms, expecting him to pan the theme trick for being too simplistic. Instead he went after individual words. Who says that OFL is predictable?

Question of the day: Does DOCOCK like GRAND OPENINGs?

-- Not yet a STABLE genius, but working on it.

@chefwen: Have you still not tried POI? (Nice botantical crossing with AT ROOT.) Leftovers make great PAPER glue!

Dan M 7:19 AM  

The theme was definitely more clever in theory than in practice. I think either a revealer or a title that hinted at the “square peg in a round hole” idea would have gone a long way toward making the “oh” moment into an “aha!” moment.

Oh, also, SHEERS is a thing. You buy “normal” drapes, and you buy SHEERS to go behind them.

Unknown 7:22 AM  


Suzie Q 7:34 AM  

That sure was a lot of work for not much fun at all.
So the circles spell out Square Peg. What does that have to do with anything? Am I not seeing the forest for the trees? Probably. Somebody set me straight please.
I don't know what an early adopter is.
The clue for Omegas was kinda funny but by the time I got to it I was feeling desperate for amusement.

Anonymous 7:48 AM  

There was a lot not to like about this, and like ‘mericans in Paris”, I had pANDAS for “Followers of talks”. I actually had to spell out the words in the circles, which is hard on my small phone, to find the Q, and then my mind pushed back against “square pegs” which has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with the theme “watch the gap”. I looked at QANDAS and thought of the Australian airline - why does QANtAS follow talks? Finally said, “Oh. Questions and answers. Okay.” ARGH (composer had to use the less common double AA so he or she could get in NOBAMA. Bleh. FOO.

chefbea 7:52 AM  

When I saw Mind the gap...I assumed the puzzle would have to to with trains or subways!!! Anyone else? What a hard puzzle...they have been harder than usual all week!!!

Dave Grohl 8:12 AM  

FOO clued like that? WTF??

Maruchka 8:16 AM  

Thinking for old am I to futility exercising. What said everyone most...OOF!

Context, back bring!

mmorgan 8:28 AM  

I experienced an unusually high level of agreement with Rex on this one. "Just no fun" plus EPIZOA, UZI, NOBAMA, ugh ugh ugh. There was one brief pleasant moment when I got the theme and was able to plunk down some other themers with nary a letter in place, and my solving went from sloooooow to zip zip zip, but that was about it.

I did change ARF to GRR just in time (because I actually did know SHEERS), and I got (but was baffled by) Singleton. I also had to change I MEAN TO to I PLAN TO.

For my last letter, I very cautiously put the D in BROOD, half expecting it to be wrong (it was a guess), but to my surprise it worked!

Cute comment about parsing DOC OCK.

Hoboken Mike 8:30 AM  

I second your pandas on what was essentially an unchecked square. 🐼

ghthree 8:31 AM  

Am I the only one to notice that, although the letters in the circles spell out SQUARE PEG, the circles themselves are actually round pegs (in square holes)?

To me, it's a reasonably good theme loused up by some terrible clues. For example, SOLO HOMER could have been clued "It's only one RBI."

Passing Shot 8:34 AM  

Technical DNF because, like Rex, plopped in “arf” for GRR and then wondered what the hell SQUARE PEA referred to. Not one of Mr. McCoy’s stronger efforts.

@Lewis 5:54 “lacuna mutata” — “N-I-I-i-C-E!”

Hungry Mother 8:45 AM  

Had aRf instead of GRR, so DNF. Kind of a meh theme, without sizzle.

pmdm 8:53 AM  

Mr. McCoy explains elsewhere that the meta-answer SQUAREPEG put heavy restraints on the fill because nine theme entries were required. So perhaps he should be given a small amount of leeway for the fill.

Reading the comments posted so far, I was much less bothered than others by the puzzle.

John H 8:55 AM  

For a change I agree with Rex pretty much down the line. Including "Nobama." Had the same Scottie mistake, although the juxtaposition of Scot and scottie was kind of cute.

Robso 9:28 AM  

As the father of twins, I need to point out that a SINGLETON—at least for parents of twins—is a child without a twin sibling, so missed cluing opportunity there.

Teedmn 9:32 AM  

I had a couple of LUCKY BREAKs here - I guessed correctly on FOO (crossing DOC OCK?ARRGH) and somehow navigated through EPIZOA. Otherwise, this was a pretty straightforward Sunday puzzle, with my time an EENSIE bit below my 36 minute Sunday average (using @r.alphbunker's randomization tool), coming in at 34:15.

I liked the clue referencing Coleridge for SEA (36D). I got misdirected by "mitt" in the 111A clue and put in "ball" before OVEN. I smiled to be reminded of that goofy movie, "LARS and the Real Girl". I had "leg room" before ARM REST as an airplane point of contention. I enjoyed the ambiguous tense of "Let out, as a sigh" for HEAVED. I put in the more-obvious-to-me "taro" chip before KALE poked its head up. BROOD as in chickens, for "Clutch" was nice. I sniffed at IT'S OUT as a publisher's announcement. I see many of the things that caught my attention did so for Rex also, but not in a good way for him :-).

AFTER ALL ("at the end of the day" cliché, har) it was a pretty good puzzle. Thanks, Tom McCoy, for all of the GAP words.

Hartley70 9:33 AM  

This took me half again as long as usual and I also got nailed by the second O of FOO crossing DOCOCK. I don’t know much about Spidey and FOO should have been ph for phooey in my “oh, rats” lexicon. Actually I would have just said, “Oh, rats!”

Baseball ignorance was finally an advantage since SOLOHOMER made perfect sense to me.

The theme worked fine for a Sunday, not too complicated for a crowded grid. It gave me a post-solve, “well look at that!” response. That was all I needed today.

Z 9:43 AM  

Sundays are twice as large as the rest of the week (441 squares as opposed to 225). As a result it is much more difficult to avoid all the traps that lessen a solver’s enjoyment. Add nine theme answers (that’s one almost every other across line - like having six or seven themers in a 15x15 puzzle) constraining your fill and I am not surprised that so many of us found this more than a little sloggy. I like the multi-layered theme, first word is transformed by the second word, the resulting round hole is then filled by a SQUARE PEG. Add in that the original two word phrases are all legit, something we’ve seen others fail at, and the theme is top notch. But, man, the compromises needed to get there left a sour ODOR in my NASAL CAVITY.

I corrected them all, but I had aRf before GRR, TOWing before TOWAGE, I meAN TO before I PLAN TO, and peT- rock before ALT-rock. Misspelling SCelRA didn’t help with TOWAGE or ALT-Rock. Otherwise this was a pretty easy solve. I got the theme early and figured that with SQU for the first three circles that I’d be spelling something at the end. I didn’t pause to consider what I was spelling until post-solve.

QuasiMojo 9:48 AM  

Winslow Homer was a "singleton" since he never married. Although he never actually said "I'm out!"

I had PANDAS too! I thought it was some cute word for people who are addicted to TED Talks or something. Or dress up as furry fans, gorging on bamboo, at cosplay conventions. But when I did not get the "you are finished!!" ding-dong on the online version, I realized I had to put a Q in there. So unlike OFL I actually did finish. :)

"Square Pegs" was a wonderful TV show. Way ahead of its time. Fans of Star Trek might recall that Merritt Butrick was one of its stars.

The only logical explanation for its appearance here, however, is that a Square Peg does not fit! So it kinda, sorta makes sense. OY VEY!

Z 9:56 AM  

BTW - I started following the Tigers in 1968, so it has been 50 years. Ernie Harwell, Ray Lane, Paul Carey, Dan Dickerson, Jim Price, Larry Osterman, George Kell, Al Kaline, Josh Lewin, Kirk Gibson, Mario Impemba, Rod Allen, Jack Morris, Matt Shepard. and probably twice as many announcers on national broadcasts, and I cannot recall ever once hearing any of these announcers calling a SOLO HOMER a “singleton.” I’m sure it is correct, there are almost as many slang terms for home runs as there are for sex, but it’s a new one here.

RooMonster 9:59 AM  

Hey All!
FOO! DNF at BLANKNESS. Couldn't for the life of me remember how to spell DOC OCK (Re:Rex, LOL!!), had DOC OCh, along with EsE for ENE, and Rex again, fROOD for BROOD, because I followed @M&A's advice, just for consonants instead of vowels, when in doubt, enter an F. So I ended up with fLAsHNESS. Why not? :-)

Only wrongness all in one spot. AARGH-worthy.

Also as Rex, aRf before GRR, until I spelled out the circles. SQUARE PEA, what the hey? Then went back and looked to see if I was supposed to rebus PEA in the circles. Good stuff.

Our old friend TSETSE is back. Haven't seen that in a while. Couple writeovers, duETO-OWETO, TOWing-TOWAGE, tEensy-EENSIE, aRf-GRR, and actually put yOBAMA in! Who can remember 2008? I can't remember most of 2018.

STS, bad clue. Maybe Aves. crosses? Off to ears clues on AFTERALL and ADOPTER.

So s mostly NEATO puz. Liked it more than a bunch of y'all. All the first words are Gapped with the second word as a synonym of Gap. Not super SWEET, but not an OH NO either. And that's my PEEP. No Q AND A'S please. :-)


Rob 10:01 AM  

I liked this well enough overall. The theme type is a bit tired but the constructor did a really nice job with the clues literally splitting etc. the theme answers.

My biggest complaints are that, because the "splitter" letters aren't used in the Acrosses, there's no way to get that letter if you weren't sure what the Down is. Q AND As is the biggest offender. I get it now but definitely didn't at first. The other one is the Scottie clue. I did think about ARF but the other crosses rule it out... but there's no way to know if it's GRR or RRR.

One that I had wrong but I think my answer sort of almost worked for both Across and Down: 87A ("That's my intention")/77D (Bill). The right answers were I PLAN TO/NOTE. For some reason I PLAN TO didn't occur to me and I ended up with I PLAN SO/NOSE. I even thought "I PLAN SO? Nobody says that!" I was more right than I knew!

Nancy 10:05 AM  

I came here to find out three things:

Was EPIZOA, whatever the heck that is, right? Answer: Yes.

Was my cross of FOO with DOCOCK (who?) right? Answer: Yes.

Why couldn't I reconcile 116D, ARF, with 122A, SHEETS??? SHEETS gave me ART, not ARF for "Scottie's warning". And ARF gave me SHEEFS. Well guess what: It's not aRf at all, it's GRR! And it's SHEERS. Have you ever called a set of curtains SHEERS? I know I never have. So a 2-letter DNF, with one of the letters being an unchecked letter. GRR!!!!

Other than that, my biggest stumbling block was an initial I MEAN TO instead of I PLAN TO, slowing me down in a puzzle that already seemed very, very long. A LOAD of junky fill, and I didn't enjoy it all that much.

Too Too 10:13 AM  

Theme: "Mind the Gap" which is a train trains in puzzle.
Single letters create "gaps" words in random places.
SQUAREPEG is the core of the theme, but has nothing to do with trains OR letters creating "gaps" in words in random places.

It's as though the constructor had the idea for two themes and mashed them together. "Cutesy" is a good way to describe it, but I would also say that it's just too too.

Preferred Customer 10:17 AM  

I enjoyed the theme, I get the square peg thing, and it seems like the constructor and editor ran out of steam and treated the clues for the rest of the puzzle as incidental garbage.

Q and A is an abbreviation. The clue has no abbreviation. A bill is a note and a nose. And all the other clues mentioned above that are inaccurate or wonky.


GILL I. 10:24 AM  

Well, I think I got it at Q AND AS. Knew a U probably had to follow and so on and so on.
When I finished, I drew pretty lines starting with S and finishing with G. It looks just like a zig zag - sorta.
Went looking for offending words that @Rex would point out so that we can have another day of people being offended. Didn't disappoint. He's offended. I'm only offended by the much disputed part of an airplane. ARMREST isn't my bone of contention. Leg room is and seat room even more so. My very best friend in the whole world is what you'd call a large gal. When she comes to visit she either has to buy two seats or upgrade to business. Even they are getting smaller. I spent the better part of 30 years flying on a plane at least 4 times a month. Back then it was enjoyable. You actually had a comfortable seat. I heard or read somewhere that the government might step in and do something about the outrage people feel about our gouging airlines. Maybe. I stopped flying years ago.
Back to offending words. I'm not up on my Spider-Man things so I looked at DO COCK. Said "that can't be right." Oh, DOC OCK, I guess. Notice it crosses OVO? How cute.
Isn't there a FOO man Choo? Or is that taboo?
I did like the concept but it was a tad boring to finish up.
ODOR could have followed eater.
HONK if you agree.

Nancy 10:33 AM  

@Loren (5:56) and @TomAz (12:23 a.m.) -- I had the same reaction to ODORS for those lovely-smelling flowers as you did. A really bad clue -- and an absolutely unnecessary one. Also, Loren -- I too wanted SERIES before SEPTET and LOLLS before LOAF. I very lightly wrote in the first, but never wrote in the second.

@'Mericans (6:05) -- Mel BROOKS once said to you, "You have no taste!"???!!! C'mon, @'Mericans, don't leave us all hanging. When did he say that to you??? Where??? Most of all, Why??? I, for one, want the entire story!

ColoradoCog 10:41 AM  

Long time baseball fan here too, and I also have never heard of a “singleton” home run. Usually when this happens, I hit Google and learn something about my own gap in knowledge. This time, after lots of various Googles and finding nothing but pages about baseball players named Singleton, I’m ready to declare this clue to be “out of left field.”

More broadly, I’m going to have to agree with @Rex for the most part on this one. No joy in Mudville. This was a swing-and-miss strikeout.

Peter P 10:52 AM  

I actually never did get around to seeing that the circled letters spelled SQUAREPEG, or else that would have simplified things a little. The main sticking point I had was figuring out QANDAS. (Like others, I had pANDAS, which of course made no sense to me. It took staring and going back to the clue and filled-in-squares regularly to finally spot the "AND" as a possible conjunction in there, and then I just felt like an idiot. Doubly so because if I had just run through the circled letters, I would have seen it as S_UAREPEG.) Then my only other sticking point was finding my EPeZOA/ReALS error.

SOLOHOMER was easily inferred after a few cross fills, but, like everyone else, not a term I've heard used in baseball for a solo home run. Without any context, I would have thought a singleton is just one run in an inning, of any type. I have a feeling I may have heard it used this way, along with other synonyms like "one-spot," but it also sounds like a very idiosyncratic usage perhaps limited to a certain announcer, even.

Z 11:12 AM  

So maybe I’ll take it back. I can find people named “Singleton.” I can find it as Bridge slang (a single card in a suit). I can find a reference to unattached people (I did not bother to read up on why remaining unattached makes one a “selfish singleton”). I can find thousands of pages for it as a crossword clue (how many of you people cheat, anyway?). But not one of the half dozen or so lists of baseball slang (including an amazingly long one at Wikipedia) seemed to list “singleton” as any sort of baseball lingo. The best I got to justify this clue is that SOLO HOMER is baseball lingo, so maybe “baseball lingo” in the clue only refers to the answer? Yeah, right. I don’t believe it either. Anyone got a better answer or source? Bueller? Bueller?

MichaelT 11:12 AM  
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Odd Sock 11:27 AM  

Since there is always a topic du jour I am relieved that it's only baseball today. I never have followed baseball but I know a lot of people here do and it's amusing how deep the obsession runs.
For me, Shits given? Zero.
Around here that makes me the square peg.

Puzzling Philosopher 11:31 AM  

In set theory, a singleton is a set (a collection of things) that contains just one thing. That's only a little less strange than the empty or null set, which contains nothing.

Hartley70 11:35 AM  

It’s odd to me that SHEERS are considered obscure by some. They are the white nearly see through panels that one hangs behind heavier drapes. They let light in without having full sun and prying eyes on your furnishings. They’re a formal look but quite common I would think.

Malsdemare 11:36 AM  

It doesn't happen often, but while I won't rant, I agree with Rex. I wasn't crazy about this, and it wasn't the presence of NOBAMA. I had this idea that the random letters were in some way representations of the long phrase, that somehow an S "looked" like a RAILSPLITTER, but it doesn't. I could sorta see the Q being OUTERSPACE, but the rest? Boy, did I wander down a weird path there. Of course, living here smack in the middle of Lincoln's circuit, RAILSPLITTER was easy, as were most of the others. But I seemed to have a tough time getting those random fillin letters. And of course, I missed the whole S Q U A R E P E G (you with me on this, @Nancy?) and having been given that information, I still have no idea how it fits the puzzle. Are these random letters supposed be inserted in round holes? I guess.

I also fell into the ImeANTO/IPLANTO trap. ATROOT doesn't really roll off the tongue, and yup, it’s a clutch of eggs, a BROOD of hens. Oh, well, it was a decent way to begin a lazy, humid, grey Sunday. Now to read the comments and then go train a dog so he doesn't embarrass me in class tonight.

ssladebooth 11:46 AM  

My husband, a comic book aficionado, had strangely never heard of Docock. The answer made a lot more sense after I looked at your site. I agree there were a few cringe-worthy clues, but at least we got a laugh out of my comic book ignorance.

TubaDon 11:46 AM  

     I too fell into the GRAND OPENING trap and spent way too much time trying to figure out a letteer that was an appropriate analog to the answer. Finally just ignored the circled letter and struggled through, not realizing 'til the end that the gap itself was the object of the answer. Must agree with Rex on most of his comments about this Unreal McCoy.

Anonymous 12:02 PM  

Singleton clued as a bridge term (solo in a suit) would work, but, dang, does anybody but us old folks play bridge any more?

Malsdemare 12:10 PM  

So "Mind the Gap" is a train phrase, @too too? Well, here's my experience with FOO. I had a great aunt who was widowed in her 30s when the train her husband was driving derailed and he was thrown from the cab. Despite two little girls and being drop-dead gorgeous, she remained a SINGLETON, and went on to inspire her great nieces by her outrageous, hysterical, "live life to its fullest" antics. Her running down the street in her formal gown and stocking feet, chasing my newlywed sister is a picture I'll carry to my grave. She was 75 at the time. It is my goal to out-outrageous her. Her favorite epithet was FOO; second fav was "poo!"

Joe in Newfoundland 12:10 PM  

something's mirthless for sure. anyways, what other type of homer is there?

GHarris 12:14 PM  

This was a day I paid the price for working on paper. I had a singleton letter wrong but there was no electronic guru to alert me to the error. I had Spiderman's foe as Dr Cock (should have realized that would not pass the censors). Still, apparently found it easier than Rex (though my time is no where near as fast as his) and a lot more enjoyable. Btw Rex, I think you fail to realize that a publisher need not be a book producer. It can refer to anyone who puts something out there.

Lindsay 12:21 PM  

I have never once said FOO. Or DO COCK. GRR.

NOBAMA makes me want to scream. The clue suggested "refudiate" to me.

Jhawker 12:23 PM  

I am 73 years old and have been a baseball fan as long as I can remember. I can’t begin to recall all of the announcers I’ve heard call ballgames on radio and TV but the number must be a hundred or more. My favorite early memories are of Dizzy Dean and Peewee Reese calling the game of the week. I have never heard “singleton” used to describe a solo home run. Never. It is not baseball lingo.

JC66 12:30 PM  

Hand up for aRf before GRR. As a long time solver I know there are at least two possible answers, but, to me, Scotties are so small that aRf seemed to be the obvious choice. WRONG!

@oe in Newfoundland

SOLO HOMER, two run homer, three run homer, grand slam homer.

'mericans in Paris 12:32 PM  

@Nancy (10:33) -- I recounted the MEL Brooks story back in January, which is why I didn't repeat it again. But, in brief, in January I attended a Diana Krall concert here in Paris, and Mr. Brooks was in the audience. I hung back at the end to try to talk with him, but as he got to the end of his row, he turned to the right and headed back stage. Throwing caution to the wind, I shouted, "Mr. Brooks! I'm a great fan of your films!", whereupon he stopped dead in his tracks, whipped around to face me and said, "You have no taste!" (Pretty good response for a guy in his 90s, eh?)

Carola 12:45 PM  

I can see the "chore" complaints, but it's the kind of chore I enjoy. I liked the crossword-grid "SQUARE" play on words and the various synonyms for OPENINGS and the SPLITTERs that cause them. Solving in the magazine, I left the round holes blank and wrote the "gap" letters in sequence in the margin; after S_UA I saw where we were going and enjoyed the ride until the end. I had to leave one unauthorized gap, though, where the B of BROOD belonged: the constructor got me with "Clutch - I never thought of that bird kind, and with DOC OCt, I could't see BLANKNESS (appropriate!).

jberg 1:14 PM  

AARGH -- DNF, but it's my fault, not the constructors. I had RunNY instead of RAINY, so all I could think of that it was the "nTh" time, which gave me_ANDAH for the talks followers. I ran the alphabet again and again -- then I took a look at the letters in the circles, and saw that if the answer was lANDAs they would anagram to "superglue" -- just what was needed to stick those broken words back together! Now I was doomed--I mean, that superglue thing had to be right!-- so I just came here to see what was really going on.

Now, TBF, the clue doesn't say that "singleton" is baseball lingo -- it is asking what the baseball lingo for a singleton is, which is correct. (I knew I'd heard SOLO HOMER, but it's weird -- every homer is a "solo" in the sense that one batter does the whole thing alone.)

I loved OBAMA as president, but still, that was a really slogan of the other side, so legit for a puzzle.

@Loren, "moist" is a fine word -- I think at some point Annabel cited it as a word that she dislikes irrationally, but that's no reason not to use it. If there's any more general objection to it, I'd missed it.

oldactor 1:30 PM  

Who doesn't like Mel Brooks stories? One night I joined a table at Joe Alan in LA where Mel and Wayne Rogers were sitting with two "starlets". I was surprised that Mel was with someone other than his lovely
wife Anne Bancroft whom I adored.

At the end of the evening Wayne left with both "starlets. I was very relieved and as the lights came up and the waiters were putting the chairs on the tables, I said to Mel, "Well, I guess it's just you and me." He said,
"Jewish boys don't do that".

Banana Diaquiri 1:34 PM  

Does the constructor work for ICE?
39 Down Clue is outright racist.

no, just read the interview on the next page. co-incidence??? I doubt it.

"The fastest-growing undocumented populations are coming from Asia, not Mexico."

by no means the first to point out this inconvenient fact. that and many, if not most, illegals are visa abusers, not river jumpers.

TrudyJ 1:42 PM  

I mystified my comics-loving husband by asking if Spiderman had a foe whose name would fit _ _ COCK.

Even after the crosses fell into place I was still reading it as DO COCK for a minute.

Unknown 1:45 PM  

Thank you, NYT, for today's puzzle, which "joined" my "feeling" from reading the headline re: Kavanaugh. Grr, not "Arf!"

Dennis 1:45 PM  

Me, too. Only when I changed to T did I get he music.

Anonymous 1:46 PM  

I've followed baseball since 1948 and NEVER heard " Singleton" in reference to anything of baseball lingo! That's one topic I know better than most!

Preferred Customer 2:11 PM  

@z it's only cheating if you claim you finished without looking something up. I use the internet to find out what I don't know because I'd never get better if I didn't. It connects the answer to the clue in my mind.

Masked and Anonymous 2:39 PM  

SOLOHOMER is fine. Clue is sure comin from outta left field, tho. U gotta wonder what happened, there.

Puztheme is pretty good, but maybe starts to wear on U a little, for the long SunPuz-sized solvequest. Liked the SQUAREPEG revealer -- there might be a lot of nuanced interpretations of that … is SQUARE PEG another one of them obscure baseball terms, also?

staff weeject pick: FOO. This here lil puppy has always been clued quite differently from today's {"Aw, nuts!"} version. Learned somethin, there. Makes M&A want to go out and try some tasty Egg Aw Nuts Yung.

An unusual spritz of OW de Speration, for a Tom McCoy gridfill. faves: EPIZOA. EENSIE. DOCOCK. BLANKNESS. TOWAGE. ATROOT.

Congressional compromise level-stuff: STS. AARGH. INITS. ITSOUT. SCLERA. DOCOCK. TSOS.


Controversial Clue Dept.:
32-D. {Chose not to} = DIDNT. Clue sorta telegraphs that "NT" part with a bullhorn.

Controversial Parser Dilemma Dept.:
101-A. Where to put the SQUAREPEG in yer DOCOCK. M&A says circle both the C's, so U get a DOOK.

Thanx for all yer hard work, makin us another bigger than snot SunPuz, Mr. McCoy. Appreciate yer efforts, even when it's a bit of a square peg example, for U.

Masked & Anonymo11Us


Monty Boy 2:39 PM  

Hand up for GRR/aRf. My wife has used the term SHEERS for drapes, but could not recall that to change SHEEfS.

@LMS. Maybe "Odor is in the nose (node?) of the behodor" is more apt? And let's be careful with using ODOR and granddaddy in the same sentence. I, for one, take offense. Or maybe am offensive?

I only know singleton from my brief exposure to bridge as noted previously. Some baseball announcers have their own lexicon, so maybe somewhere singleton has been used, but I don't know it. For example, Bob Prince, in Pittsburgh in the 70's used "can of corn" for a high, easy fly ball. I bet not many others used it.

Harryp 3:00 PM  

I couldn't finish last night, and while dreaming of the puzzle came up with the name Art Linkletter from 1940's radio, and woke up in the middle of the night feeling that somehow I had solved the Theme of this puzzle!? I didn't, but at least today I managed to get the whole thing solved without resorting to any outside help. It works for me.

Sherm Reinhardt 3:14 PM  

Not especially evil. That's what I'll say about that.

JC66 3:22 PM  

@Monty Boy

Back in the '50's & 60's "can of corn" was ubiquitous. I heard Mel Allen (NYYankees) & Russ Hodges (NY Giants) both use it regularly.

I'll join the unanimous crowd that never heard "Singleton" in a baseball sense, except for a few players last names.

Banana Diaquiri 3:27 PM  

Back in the '50's & 60's "can of corn" was ubiquitous.

and if it managed to drop for a hit, it was a 'Texas Leaguer'. never did understand why it'd be from there. still heard every now and again today.

JC66 3:47 PM  

Banana D

I probably could look it up, but I'm too lazy. My sense is that the fences in the Texas League (AA?) ballparks were much further back than usual and therefore, the outfielders had to play further back to guard against extra base hits. A pop-up that would be caught in other ballparks would fall in for a base hit there. Ergo: "Texas Leaguer."

I just looked Texas Leggier up and my assumption doesn't show up.

Music Man 4:15 PM  

67D: Grammy winner Corinne Bailey RAE; English singer/songwriter. Her most notable song was “Put Your Records On” from 2006. She was awarded a Grammy in 2008 for her contribution to Herbie Hancock’s album “River: the Joni Letters”.

Bourbon Street 4:55 PM  

Thought I was so smart immediately recognizing that “Scottie” was the chief engineer on the Starship Enterprise. It was only when I couldn’t remember a three-letter warning that he would shout that it occurred to me that I was barking up the wrong tree.

Chapps 4:56 PM  

Foo? FOO? Was this just made up for the puzzle? And SOLO HOMER? What. The. Hell?

Anonymous 5:35 PM  

FWIW, Foo was a common term among computer programmers that I worked with 20 years ago - short for FUBAR.

Blue Stater 5:53 PM  

@Joel 12:49 AM - Yes indeedy. A junky word game, not a crossword puzzle and certainly not worthy of being a (pre-WS) NYT crossword puzzle, full of factual and linguistic mistakes. I can number on the fingers of one hand the times, over the 50-plus years I've been doing the puzzles, that I've given up in disgust, but today's was one of them.

Anonymous 6:08 PM  

Foo= bad, no, stop,
I agree completely.

Z 6:18 PM  

@Preferred Customer - I was being ironical. Everyone here probably looked up an answer they didn’t know. That’s how people find Rex. I don’t think anyone ever said, “Hey, I wonder if there is a lively place to discuss the NYTX,” and then went to the Google. I’m pretty sure the first time I found Rex it was because of the (in)famous NC WYETH/town on the Boston Marathon route I’d never heard of but that I now pronounce “neigh-dick” puzzle. That was hardly the last time I looked up an answer, either. Let me suggest, though, that looking up answers doesn’t really help improve solving skills. Toughing it out and rethinking plausible alternative meanings of clues helped me far more. So much so, that I now find trivial trivia particularly sub-optimal. These days I only look up answers as an absolute last resort when a puzzle has defeated me.

BTW - Anyone watching the US-Panama soccer match? The. 17 year-old Panamanian Goal Keep is having an incredible game. Too bad she has no help.

sixtyni yogini 6:31 PM  

Easy one and I liked it... not boring easy. Liked the clues and theme. Clever.
Which all supports my theory that the mood or frame of mind you’re in when doing these Sunday puzzles — determines the enjoyment factor and to some degree the easy factor.
(Maybe a drink AFTER — solving rather than before is the way to go?)

Nancy 6:31 PM  

@'mericans (12:32 p.m.) -- I missed your anecdote the first time around. Thanks for re-telling it. @oldactor (1:17 p.m.) -- So now I know you're Jewish. And I know, from an earlier post, that you played the "old actor" in The Fantasticks. I saw it back in the '60s with the original cast that included Jerry Orbach. Maybe I even saw you on stage. And maybe, with all those hints, I can figure out your identity. At any rate, Mel Brooks must have been an absolute hoot in real life. Wish I'd met him.

@Malsdemare (11: 36) -- Of course I missed the whole SQUARE PEG theme! You can always depend on me for that, Mals. It involves connecting dots or letters or something, right? And I don't connect dots or letters or anything, ever. But I'm even worse than you, Mals. I haven't read a single comment today that discusses said grid art. Don't care about it. Never have, never will.

Veloso 6:44 PM  

Or maybe "DIY RBI".

Hungry Mother 8:00 PM  

I was at the Natick Mall with my wife and a couple of grandkids yesterday.

Unknown 9:43 PM  


Dennis 10:21 PM  

It’s a round peg on in a square hole!

Kate 10:42 PM  

This puzzle made me grouchy. I’ve never heard Lincoln called “Old Abe.” Honest Abe? Yes. The Rain Splitter or the Great Emancipator, sure. But google old Abe and I get some eagle from the civil war. Apparently this was a real nickname but that doesn’t soothe my grouchiness. AARGH is just that. And the square peg thing was lost on me entirely. Oh well.

Anonymous 11:51 PM  

About the singleton clue: it is not saying that singleton IS a baseball term. Rather it is asking you to use baseball lingo to describe a singleton (a single baby being born, as opposed to twins, triplets, etc.) Thus quadruplets would be a grand slam using baseball lingo. And a singleton is a solo homer. Fair clue

Unknown 12:02 AM  

Got it. At least it wasn't an0othet Rebus. I'm still pissed about Last Sunday's Asian Pears and Speak. To quote today's AAARRGGGHHH!!!!!!!!!

nyc_lo 11:00 AM  

Had to walk away twice from this one before finishing. Once I had the “aha” moment on the whole RAILSPLITTER thing, I kept looking for it to actually, you know, make sense in the rest of the clueing. Like maybe, the random letter fell between an R and an A (or an I or an L — nope). Or the first word of the affected answer was somehow related to RAIL (double nope). I guess the SQUARE PEGS reveal was supposed to be clever, but again felt disconnected to the so-called theme. AARGH indeed.

Peter P 12:13 PM  

FOO is particularly silly, because there is a standard crossword clue that works for it: Egg ____ Young. I suppose the constructor wanted to not use such a basic "gimme clue," but "Aw, nuts!" is really stretching it.

There's also ___ Fighters, but may be a bit too pop cultural for some folks, though right in my generational wheelhouse. I mean, if you've got LIMPBIZKIT in there, you can throw in a FOO Fighters, too. I would think they're more than well-known enough, and it at least is a fair clue, not one just some esoteric interjection.

kitshef 11:23 PM  

Opposite of Rex. Enjoyed the solve but thought the theme was terrible. NW corner was a beast - probably a third of my time spend on that one tiny area.

What everyone else said about singleton - just a flat out wrong clue.

kitshef 11:32 PM  

There have been an enormous number of superhero movies released over the last twenty years. The best of them all was Spiderman 2 - with DOC OCK (short for Doctor Octopus) as the ... well, villain isn't quite the right word. Wonder Woman was really good, too.

Anonymous 2:24 PM  

Calling an anti Obama supporter as a Tea Party member is like calling an Obama supporter as black! No political comments necessary here!

Anonymous 11:16 AM  

Get over it people! We've seen worse puzzles. Would have clued foo as "some fighters?"

rondo 12:47 PM  

@anon 11:16 - I don't know if we've seen worse puzzles. But I didn't hesitate to fill in SOLOHOMER for the "singleton" clue, even if after playing organized baseball/softball for 57 years I've never heard a SOLOHOMER called that. Use your powers of inference, folks. I'd agree on FOO Fighters. Started out another week with an ENT. And a plural ampersandwich. AARGH!

Ole's pal LARS is here today, but he's not the TYPE to HONK his own horn.

@RAINY gets a mention.

I've got a CD by yeah baby Corrine Bailey RAE. SWEET.

My paper says this puz was by Lynn Lempel. Either way, it was a SNORE.

Burma Shave 2:06 PM  


SQUAREPEG met SOLOHOMER ONE day, and said, "IPLANTO talk."


AnonymousPVX 3:24 PM  

Well, I have to agree with Rex....EPIZOA really hurt. Didn’t like the circled squares that didn’t count until they did. Never saw the theme....and I didn’t look hard. Got 1 square wrong, but it felt like a LOT of work.

I think I just HEAVED an AARGH.

rain forest 7:38 PM  

Mucho late again, but what the hey, is isn't a race, and, man this wasn't a race.

I had a slow start with EPIZOA staring me in the face and I had trouble accepting it. I guess there must be endozoa, too. I could check, but I'm too lazy.

Just a guess, but I'm thinking that if an out and out redneck Republican counstructed a puzzle, it might receive a "ragequit".

So, anyway, this puzzle approached slogsville for me, but I had figured out the theme halfway through and had SQUAR in the bank and figured the next four circled letters would be E, P, E, G. That helped a bit, but it was slow going what with BROOD, FOO, TOWAGE, DOCOCK, and of course EPIZOA.

Nice to see my nickname in the grid, and so in the end, I liked it.

spacecraft 8:23 PM  

OYVEY! Must I endure two ampersandwiches in a row?? I think this calls for a targeting flag: disqualified! I'll even pay your TOWAGE!?!? And BLANKNESS: no. Everyone knows it's "blankitude."

I did it but there was no joy. I kept wondering what THE LETTER within the circle had to do with describing what it was interrupting. No, there was nothing to that; it was only that the last word of each phrase signified an interruption. That's it. For a moment there, when I came across the RO_OMDIVIDER, I thought the U might look like one of those kitchen islands as seen from overhead...but no. Nothing to it. And the circled letters spell SQUAREPEG. Oh really. So what does that have to do with the price of cheese in Wisconsin? IMO, this puzzle was woefully UNREADY for publication. Double bogey.

lodsf 9:32 PM  

A late synd. solver here but wanted to comment on the theme. I sort of liked the puzzle and got the obvious fact that the circles were gaps in the answers. But the initial theme clue says “ . . . or a description of the circled letter.” And all other theme clues are followed by “ . . . “ so I was trying to see how those answers were “a description of the circled letter”. Combine that with the fact that 28d — with the essential Q — is an abbreviation but not clued as an abbreviation. So put in “panda” even though it didn’t really make sense. At any rate, those 2 things made it impossible for me to see “square ...”.

Liked the clue for Brand X and clue for using mitts on the OVEN.

Surprised no one objected to “unready”.

Also DNF/ natick at Sclera (60D eyeball layer) and Alt (72A — rock). Screra and Art Rock was my [wrong] guess.

Bob from MT 1:42 PM  

Well I'm definitely not a tea partier, but when the Nobama buttons came out I thought it was rather clever.

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

Most fun Sunday in a long time. I never got the Q, and finally got the theme after reading a lot of the above ��

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