Wilcox daughter in Howards End / WED 12-12-18 / Benchmark figure given how old person is / Vatican diplomat / Lyft alternative / Hit musical set in 1990s New York

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Constructor: David J. Kahn

Relative difficulty: Medium (v. easy theme to pick up, but the rest, er ...)

THEME: QUEEN's performance at LIVE-AID — some trivia related to this event

Theme answers:
  • FREDDIE / MERCURY (20A: With 58-Across, iconic frontman of 39-Across)
  • QUEEN (39A: British rock band that gave an iconic performance at 25-Down)
  • LIVEAID (25D: 1985 fund-raising event watched by 1.5+ billion people)
  • CONCERT (22A: 25-Down, notably)
  • BENEFIT (55A: 25-Down, notably)
Word of the Day: NUNCIO (10D: Vatican diplomat) —
  1. (in the Roman Catholic Church) a papal ambassador to a foreign court or government. (google)
• • •

HELLO, SYNDICATION SOLVERS! (i.e. the majority of my readership—those of you who are reading this on Wednesday, January 16). It's early January and that means it's time for my annual pitch for financial contributions to the blog, during which I ask regular readers to consider what the blog is worth to them on an annual basis and give accordingly. As you know, I write this blog every. Single. Day. OK, two days a month I pay young people to write it, but every other day, all me. OK sometimes I take vacations and generous friends of mine sit in, but otherwise, I'm a non-stop blogging machine. Seriously, it's a lot of work. It's at least as much work as my day job, and unlike my day job, the hours *kinda* suck—I typically solve and write between 10pm and midnight, or in the early hours of the morning, so that the blog can be up and ready for solvers to read with their breakfast or on the train or in a forest or wherever it is you people enjoy the internet. I have no major expenses, just my time. As I've said before, I have no interest in "monetizing" the blog in any way beyond simply asking for money once a year. I hate ads in real life, so why would I subject you all to them. I actually considered redesigning the site earlier this year, making it slicker or fancier somehow. I even got the process partly underway, but then when I let slip that I was considering it, feedback was brisk and clear: don't change. Turns out people don't really want whistles and bells. Just the plain, internet-retro style of a blogger blog. So that's what you're getting. No amount of technical tinkering is gonna change the blog, which is essentially just my voice. My ridiculous opinionated voice yelling at you, cheerfully and angrily, about how much I love / hate crosswords. I hope that this site has made you laugh or taught you things or given you a feeling of shared joy, or anger, or failure, or even given you someone to yell at. I'm fine with that. I also hope I've introduced some of you to the Wider World of Crosswords, beyond the NYT. I am passionate about puzzles and I (mostly) adore the people who solve them—so many of my friends, and the thousands of you I've never met. I can't stop, and I won't stop, and I hope you find that effort worth supporting.

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All Paypal contributions will be gratefully acknowledged by email. All snail mail contributions (I. Love. Snail mail!) will be gratefully acknowledged with hand-written postcards. This year's cards are illustrations from "Alice in Wonderland"—all kinds of illustrations from throughout the book's publication history. Who will get the coveted, crosswordesey "EATME!" card!? Someone, I'm sure. You, I hope. Please note: I don't keep a "mailing list" and don't share my contributor info with anyone. And if you give by snail mail and (for some reason) don't want a thank-you card, just say NO CARD.  As ever, I'm so grateful for your readership and support.

Now on to the puzzle!
• • •

The only thing worse than Scrabble-f***ing your way to a pangram is Scrabble-f***ing your way to a pangram with the help of a f***ing NAZI.. That is the most gratuitous NAZI I have ever seen. Ever. Do you know how easy it is to make this a NAZI-free puzzle. The theme is putting Absolutely No Pressure on that part of the grid. Further, if you are the kind of person who oohs and aahs at the miracle that is a pangram, and you just have to have Every Single Letter of the alphabet in your grid because whooppee!, then guess what, it is also easy to get the "Z" into that section WITHOUT THE HELP OF A NAZI. Oh, but look ... oh, no. He didn't have to just cram the "Z" in there: he had to cram the "Z" *and* the "W" in there as well. I'm staring at this grid in disbelief. I am a real-life version of crosswordese, namely AGAZE and AGAPE. Possibly also AGOG. Is AGLARE a thing? Well then, that too. Imagine. Imagine torturing your grid so that you could Put A "W" In Your Grid. So he shoves a "Z" and a "W" into this tiny, insignificant section of the grid so that ... so that ... so that he could have his pangram (which most people won't notice), and you, you lucky solver, you could have your NAZI. Enjoy. Soak it up. Bask in the gratuitous NAZI. It's really something. If your precious pangram is so important, so important that a "Z" and a "W" both have to fit in this 3x4 section, there's this:

Or there's this

Or there's finding literally anywhere else in the grid to put the "W." Or, you know, there's just not giving a good god**** about pangrams and making the grid the best it can be, or, if nothing else, at least NAZI-free.

The theme is one of those trivia themes where you just heap trivia in there. It's not timely, as the FREDDIE / MERCURY movie came out ages ago. Why the song "Bohemian Rhapsody" is in circles at the top and bottom of the grid, I have no idea. It's a QUEEN song. But you knew that. The fill in thing this is atrocious. AGENORM (?) next to NUNCIO (!?) is DIRE indeed. LEROI on its own? APSO on its own? INICE!??! ENRY :( I was just telling my wife the other day that QUEEN's "The Game" was one of the first albums I ever owned that was *my* music, not my parents'. A really important record for me. So I'm primed to love a QUEEN-based puzzle. But I guess I'm also primed to hate a really bad one. Tell him about it, Freddie:

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 6:58 AM  

As I solved this, I thought it was pretty obvious that Rex would chew it up and spit it out, if he even decided to say anything. I could almost hear him saying, So much going on - pick a lane, David! Is this about LIVE AID or QUEEN? Or BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY?

The entry SEA FISH startled me:

You gonna order the halibut?
Nah. I’m not in the mood for sea fish. I’m feeling tributary fish tonight. That rainbow trout looks good.

ETYMA was another surprise. Who knew? Roots and such have never really been my thing, but I do like this little gem -

Poly: Greek root for many
Tics: blood-sucking parasites

But none of this spoiled my enjoyment. Alert the presses, right? QUEEN. Just…QUEEN. What can you say? Brilliant. I’m primed to love a QUEEN puzzle anywhere, anyhow. A couple of things:

1. The nastiest, most serious fight that my dad and my middle sister ever got in was who was the better musician – Elvis Presley or Freddie Mercury. I mean, this was not a good-natured little debate; it was a full-on war. I can’t believe how ugly they were to each other. It lasted for at least the duration of a Christmas vacation, and it very well still might not be settled.

2. In Alaska, every time we got our hydraulic brailer working and were able to take on salmon from the gill-netters, as the lone fisherman drove away, we played We Will Rock You on the radio really loud and sang at the top of our lungs, congratulating ourselves on making our rickety tender that had been hauled up from the bottom of the Puget Sound (true) a viable money-maker for the cannery.

3. This

relicofthe60s 7:11 AM  

Rex was so busy ranting about NAZI that he failed to mention the natick crossing of YSER and ETYMA.

kitshef 7:17 AM  

Loved the movie BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. Rami Malek, who has begun appearing in puzzles (constructors can’t resist a RAMI), was super.

Played challenging for me. Not absurdly hard like last week’s … just slow but steady.

Good to know SEA FISH is now a thing. I though maybe that was forced in to get the pangram, but none of the letters were needed.

Hungry Mother 7:19 AM  

Slow, but steady. Not quite a slog, maybe a jog. I enjoyed the solve and have no bones to pick.

Suzie Q 7:24 AM  

I never was a huge Queen fan but I can sing along with all of their hits and sometimes do when I'm alone in the car. Any puzzle based on rock music is bound to make me happy and this one did.
Speaking of happy, thanks @ LMS for that little clip at the end of your post. How do you find this stuff?
A few interesting words today to keep things interesting so not a bad puzzle at all.

John H 7:26 AM  

Delighted at the Queen theme. Freddie Mercury seems to be all ver the media, lately. As Rex pointed out I didn't even notice the pangram. Yes, that it gratuitous, completely unnecessary. It diminished what could have been a pretty good puzzle.

I like themes that are less rigid. Here you have a person, a group, a song, an event, and two characteristics of that event. Live Aid is in itself worth celebrating, as is the genius of Freddie Mercury.

Sea food/ocean fish, don't confuse the two. Apso on its own is unforgivable (spell check tells me I'm right.) I am not as sensitive about nazi, which is a thing, regrettably, so why not? I don't understand why the cross with awe is such a crime.

Nuncio is one of my favorite words.

amyyanni 7:27 AM  

Gee, I kinda liked the Enry clue. Called to mind "Just you wait, 'Enry 'Iggins," sung by a spirited Eliza. Agree wholeheartedly about the Nazi entry, even if couched within the reference of a wonderful movie ("Life is Beautiful").

Z 7:27 AM  

Not to pile on, but the PPP is a hefty 27 of 76 for 35.5%, firmly in the excessive range. I feel sorry for any solver who doesn’t know their CrossRivers because that YSER/ETYMA crossing is, shall we say, difficult to infer. I hade a brief iSER thought until I realized that would need an E to be stoutened to Isere.

The timing is a little odd. This is obviously a tribute puzzle with no particular reason to run today. As a tribute puzzle on some anniversary the random QUEEN factoids make sense. Here on some random Wednesday in December it just seems a little self-indulgent. We got circles, we got cross-referenced clues. We got crossing central themers. The puzzle just seems like a crossword incarnation of “all dressed up and nowhere to go.”

As for pangrams, I’m still agnostic (don’t notice don’t care) but I do tend to agree that if you need NAZI to get to it maybe eschewing the pangram is a bit wiser. Now I notice that this puzzle has a lots of depressing elements to it, white collar crime (ENRON), indicted politicians (BIBI), NUNCIOs busy at work in Pennsylvania, a country making headlines for mass rapes and Ebola (SUDAN). Disputed CRIMEA and all the shenanigans going on in Ukraine. Yep, all in all, NAZIs fit right in.

Odd Sock 7:35 AM  

Sea fish? Seafood, OK. I divide my fish into saltwater, or maybe ocean, and freshwater. While you're at it, be sure to put your fish in ice or maybe on ice? I don't know but in ice sounded strange.
I guess I don't know what my age norm is considering how many times I've been told to act my age.
Myrrh always stumps me. Even when it's spelled right it looks wrong.
I can't listen to Queen without remembering Mike Myers and Dana Carvey in Wayne's World rocking out in their car with Queen blasting on the stereo.

Anonymous 7:42 AM  

Got naticked at 15A/6D mostly from cluing on AVON. Not sure I oppose NAZI as much as some, as long as clue is sufficiently derogatory.

Adios 7:46 AM  

Done with his ridiculous ranting about an "offensive" word.
Looking for an adult NYTXword reviewer...
Have fun, folks.

Lewis 7:50 AM  

I guess I never caught on to Queen like I did other groups, but I can still appreciate the bumpy journey this puzzle gave me to negotiate -- my favorite kind of solve -- and the skill and effort that went into designing and filling a puzzle with so much theme material.

I enjoyed the cross of LAX with TAXI, and UPON/AVON/ENRON/IRONON/ORION.

And I enjoyed being treated to this Kahncert.

QuasiMojo 7:56 AM  

Comic books have had Nazis in them. Countless times. I wonder if Rex would ban those from his classroom. Who’s burning books here? We beat the Nazis, remember? If the constructor wanted to refer to them with a clue about a movie that hardly glorified them, I see no harm in that. Nazis were and are real. Why try to hide them? Plus the changes you suggested were pretty weak. COZ?? Crossing COZY?

I would have had a faster time if I hadn’t thought the STING clue was another bit of PPP. I put in HUNK.

Proud to see myself in the puzzle today. And I don’t mean STUD.

Joe R. 8:04 AM  

This was a pangram? Oh. So what? Does anyone care about pangram puzzles other than the constructor patting themselves on the back for how awesome they are?

And can we please get at least a little vitriol for the repeated recent appearances of ENRON with positive clues, instead of the foul, criminal scum that they were?

Farrokh Bulsara 8:12 AM  

This was a great puzzle. Crazy to think the Mets were in the Series only three years ago. Pretty sure there were Nazis in Life Is Beautiful so no worries there.

nitram lepok 8:12 AM  

Tater? Hank Aaron the tater king?

Unknown 8:12 AM  


TomAz 8:23 AM  

April 1 gag idea:

Make a fake puzzle and get Rex to think it's real. Fill it with loads of objectionable sorts: nazis, Trumpists, Weinsteins, Kochs, Putins, the NRA, the NFL, Fox news. Just stuff that baby with as much as you can. Then fill the rest with the worst glue: partials, b-listers, alternative spellings, obscure characters in minor operas, etc. Put circles in random places with no rhyme or reason. Bonus points for Naticks. Be sure not to have any baseball or mythology in there. Now we'd have to make sure this didn't happen on a day when Rex has one of his nice friends subbing on the blog; no, we want to read Rex's write-up. Tee-hee.

Z 8:34 AM  

@Joe R. - I read that clue as an indictment of Fortune magazine. I’m reminded of a stretch where a state had the habit of selecting a Teacher of the Year only to have them exposed as having cheated on standardized tests. It happened something like 3 or 4 years in a row. When there is a drastic improvement from long established AGE NORMs, whether it is investment returns, TATERs hit in a season, or improvement on test scores, it is generally less embarrassing to take a wait and see stance than to sing paeans. Unfortunately, nuance doesn’t sell magazines.

Daniel Simpson Day 8:48 AM  

I predicted he’d caterwaul about the bro hello not Nazi. Wrong again LOL.

GILL I. 8:58 AM  

Ouch. Did David Kahn leave dog caca on your lawn?
I actually enjoyed this puzzle. Didn't realize it was a pangram. NAZI is right there with the dreaded ZIT and the cute little baby OWIE. At least NAZI isn't clued as some hero.
Had FRE in at 20A and a bit of CON at 22A. Of course....FREDDIE MERCURY CONCERT LIVE AID BENEFIT and his famous BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. Who else but my husbands favorite QUEEN? If only you had snuck in GALILEO.
While the theme was fairly easy to get, the surrounding fill was a bit of a bear. Lots I didn't know. Didn't/don't understand TRAP as the Sting e.g. Was thinking of a band.
ETYMA is a new word for me and now I know that TATER is not just a potato.
FREDDIE MERCURY has been all over Social Media lately. Seems like his autobiography pops up all the time on TV and on Facebook. So sad he left us so young.

Alf Wiedersehen 9:07 AM  

I'm just not sure what the point of a pangram is. It seems so utterly self indulgent Maybe constructors do it for the bit of immortality it offers their puzzles...since they get to go into the eternal "pangram" database. Seriously, though...what part of LIVEAID and QUEEN and BENEFIT CONCERT screams out for a pangram puzzle? It's pointless and irrelevant. And in this case, it only confuses the theme and makes the fill awful. Weird flex, but okay. (I hope I'm using that right)

Speaking of...

I'm pretty sure that a person like Adios will stick around long enough to read the comments section to see if they were mentioned. It's the age old internet meme of people announcing to the world (or the FB group they are in) that they are leaving. As if anyone cared at all. The narcissism in some people is very strong...(and I should know as a narcissist myself, if anyone is wondering).

So, auf Wiedersehen Adios. Don't let the door hit ya where natural selection split ya. And as you're reading this, just make a mental note of just how pathetically predictable you are.

mmorgan 9:13 AM  

I don't know Queen (way after my time) and I have no particular interest in seeing the movie, but somehow I solved this pretty easily. I guess just enough pop culture seeped into my brain through the cracks. I found AGENORM and SEAFISH pretty strange but they mostly went in through crosses.

Pangram, shmangram, didn't notice, don't really care.

Anonymous 9:17 AM  

Now that Nazties are active in an America with a normally vehement, ranting president that turns a friendly winking eye to them, I agree with his opinion if not his delivery.

A jumping up and down rant trivializes them as much as the stupid clue does. Better to recall that last year one of them saw fit to murder as many people as he could with a speeding vehicle and that the then president noted there were "fine people on both sides."

A measured tone with the bare facts screams loud enough and would say much more.

As for the rest of the puzzle, if you're queen fan or have seen the movie, this should be a lot of fun. I'm not, but I hear the movie is great.

John Steinberg 9:17 AM  

My grandfather’s sister and brother were murdered by Nazis. I don’t understand why anyone would object the inclusion in the puzzle of the word Nazi, clued as “Life is Beautiful” extra. Get over yourself.

Kiki 9:36 AM  

I'm confused, and forgive me for asking, if it offends you somehow, but is it a crossword culture thing not to want words in the puzzle like NAZI because they remind us of bad times in history (and some people now)? I understand this is a typically breakfast-time occupation, but we read the paper then, too, and the news sucks....

I always want NAZI to be a familiar term to everyone, so I sincerely don't understand the vigor with which Rex opposed its inclusion in the puzzle. I feel the creator is doing the world a service by keeping the word current.

Again, having only a few months of this crossword habit under my belt, I'm not familiar with the culture, but I'm praying that the crossword community isn't all about rainbows and unicorns. Please tell me it ain't so!!! Everyone here is too smart to have their heads buried in the sand.

Greg 9:39 AM  

I have worked in theater and performing arts for 25 years and I have never once worked with a CUER. I have, however, worked many times with a PROMPTER.

Nancy 9:48 AM  

If not for the tiny little circles, would anyone have noticed BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY embedded at the top and bottom? Not I, surely.

And what, exactly, is an AGE NORM?

A quite bland puzzle, fill-wise -- about an event I didn't see and have no particular interest in. But salvaged to some degree by the clues, which DJK made pretty hard. The clues were far more interesting than the answers. In fact, the only answer that made me sit up and take notice was our fellow Rexite QUASI.

Hoping for a lot more zip tomorrow.

Kiki 9:50 AM  

@JohnSteinberg That's what I'm thinking. How can we dare presume to say we want this word hidden from sight? I understand solving puzzles is a recreational activity. But I've seen plenty of other scary words in puzzles that no one complains about.

I'm sorry for your family's loss.

GHarris 9:55 AM  

Crisp and thoroughly enjoyable. Had a dnf because, working on paper, I failed to notice I had a blank space where the y in Yser was required and there was no computer alert. Believe I would have gotten it. First objected to sting as trap because I identified it as a scam. Then I remembered FBI ops such as Abscam which trapped corrupt pols.

Sir Hillary 9:56 AM  

Holy smoke, did they publish this ONADARE? Nice idea, awful execution.

As the object of a tribute puzzle, you can't do much better than QUEEN and FREDDIE MERCURY. I would have loved to see FREDDIE MERCURY in one row and BENEFIT CONCERT on another. Even without that, why was LIVEAID clued as a BENEFIT and a CONCERT? It was a BENEFIT CONCERT!

Anyhoo...theme aside, there is more dreadful fill in today than I can remember in a single puzzle -- ever. I could stand two or three of FORA, LEROI, YSER, APORT, ENRY, BORER, SEAFISH, EVIE, ETYMA, INICE, AGENORM, CUER and OWIE -- but all of them? That's 1/6 of your words right there.

"Yes, First Mate?"
"No one talks like that, First Mate."

Nancy 10:10 AM  

Hi, @Kieran (9:36) -- No, no, no, no, no -- it is emphatically not a "crossword culture" thing to take umbrage at supposed "trigger words" in a crossword. It is, purely and simply, a "Rex Parker thing." Please don't confuse the rest of us in puzzle world with Rex. If it were a "crossworld culture thing", I would abandon the crossword scene as fast as my little feet could carry me. I agree with every word you say, and the overwhelming majority of people on this blog -- both liberal and conservative -- seem to agree too.

My way of dealing with it is to not read Rex and to not read any of his great army of twitterers, either. I come here instead to read...well, people like you, @Kieran.

I get it 10:10 AM  

I mean, I get it. I walked out of HELLBOY in theaters because he fought Nazis in a flashback. I won't watch another Tarantino movie because he made INGLORIOUS BASTERDS. I was trying to watch a show on my amazon prime video account and I saw Nazi-like imagery on the menu advertising for THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE and just FREAKED. OUT. I'm cancelling my prime account, just like this puzzle should have been cancelled.

Mr Crankypants 10:13 AM  

ENRY ANDOR APORT ETYMA INICE AGENORM - What would you do to avoid these in your puzzle? Odds that your puzzle would be accepted with all six of them?

Yet this train wreck was conceived, made, mailed in, accepted, edited and published within one month. Typically a puzzle languishes for 3-4 months before even being considered and then, if accepted, sits in queue for many months or even years.

So much for fair and impartial editorial consideration of submissions.

Z 10:19 AM  

@Nancy - An AGE NORM is simply something that generally occurs in a normal distribution (a bell curve) around a certain age. For example, learning to read "normally" happens at about age 6, plus or minus 3 years. Puberty is 12 +/-3 for females, and 14 +/-2 for males.* Another approach to comparison is the percentile. for example my sons were all in the 95th percentile for height for their age earlier in their lives, now two are right at the 50th percentile for adult males in the US, one is in the 68th percentile, while dad is in the 99th percentile (but still short for the NBA). This is all just data. How the data is used or, too often, misused is completely up to us.

*I'm doing these stats from memory - so if you want to cite something recent and more accurate, have at it.

p 10:25 AM  

Pretty easy here. FREDDIE went right in, making all the other QUEEN stuff quick and easy. YSER is ese for sure; new solvers might as well learn it now.

Some want to avoid any mention of NAZIS, some want to avoid any mention of global warming. Neither is a good idea, IMHO.

Had the most fun imagining the clue "Indecisive hag" and the answer being "Witch of ANDOR.

This was a pangram?

John Child 10:37 AM  

Yes, a pangram @p. Mr Kahn’s first in 181 puzzles. So brush off Rex’s outrage on that subject. There’s no reason to assume gratuitous Scrabble @#$&ing.

And I’m pretty sure 180 of those puzzles are better than this one.

I adore your ANDOR clue. Definitely a double question-mark one!

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

and isn't bleached and not dyed to go platinum?

Nancy 10:40 AM  

I think you may be a born Cryptic puzzle creator, @p (10:25). Your clue/answer is just great!

pmdm 10:47 AM  

Someday I might construct a crossword, and when I do I'll have to make sure it's not a pangram to avoid silly anger. And I'll have to make sure I avoid words that those who prefer to bury their heads in the sand don't take umbrage against.

Just about everything I'd like to say has already been said. For me, the PPP was brutal (not being a Queen or Freddie Mercury fan) even though Bohemian Rhapsody is one of my wife's favorite songs. I probably would find out reading the correspondence between the editors and the constructor more enjoyable than the puzzle. Even Jeff Chen and Mike Sharp seem to be in agreement on this puzzle (though expressed very differently.

Anonymous 11:04 AM  

I use to listen to Queen, but I had no idea about Live Aid and I'm not sure I ever heard of that concert, never mind that I was a DJ in 1985 and I have about 30,000 songs on ITune, so this whole thing sort of baffled me. I was living in San Francisco in the 80s for crying out loud while everyone was dropping dead from AIDS and I still don't know what Live AID is or why it has to be tied to Freddie Mercury. why not do a Rock Hudson theme?

jberg 11:06 AM  

The theme made it a little too easy, because you could fill in the circled letters, QUEEN, and FREDDIE MERCURY from just a few crosses. It took me a couple crosses to remember the LIVE part of the BENEFIT CONCERT (there were so many of those at one time), but still it gave me a running start.

Oddly, at one point I was thinking "if you're gonna put that Q right in the center like that, you'd better go ahead and make it a pangram" -- but then I forgot to check if he'd done it. I guess I'm getting jaded.

But, yeah, SEA FISH and APORT. I'm guessing Mr. Kahn has not spent two years before the mast. I don't know why, but while I've heard "alee" and "abaft," I've only heard "to port," "to starboard," and "to windward."

DNF, though, because I forgot the essential differences between those rivers -- ISER needs another E, as @Z pointed out, and it's in the wrong place for a First World War battle. I'm writing it out here in the hope that that will help remember it last time.

Anyway, I should have figured out ETYMON and its plural from 'etymology.' Failure to think hard enough on my part.

But what is that DIRE STRAIT of Hormuz doing in a QUEEN tribute puzzle?

ArtO 11:07 AM  

Brutal for someone of a certain age! Yes, I've heard of Freddie Mercury but he is far from the easily accessed part of my brain. Much awful stuff as properly noted and condemned. Not at all a pleasant solve. Lucky to have finished errorless.

JF 11:15 AM  

A world in which you are not even allowed to express scary or frightening concepts is a scary world, indeed. Much scarier than any word itself.

Chim cham 11:23 AM  

Well put and agreed. Crossword culture usually tries to avoid purile language or references that are emotionally upsetting. It also depends on how a concept is treated. “Nazi” here is so factual and unsympathetic, I doubt it will bother too many people. There are other words related to that topic that would stick out as harsher. Rex is known to be sensitive to the potential offensiveness of... anything. You’ll find yourself agreeing proudly with him and then rolling your eyes out of your head from one day to the next. I’ve accepted that it makes his blog exciting to check in on. Amens or groans? You never know!

BarbieBarbie 11:34 AM  

This seems so trivial-- but what bothered me most was having EASED follow LAX so closely when the clue for LAX used the root word EASY or some such. Good clues don't contain seeds to make neighboring answers easier. You can clue LAX as an airport answer or a sports answer. Edit Fail.
I don't get the W objection. I do get the NAZI objection but I think it's stupid.

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

Fairly easy, but an enjoyable solve. Thanks very much Mr. Kahn. Keep constructin’.

Airymom 11:40 AM  

I have many reactions to the debate about including the word "Nazi" in a grid. My grandmother was deported to a concentration camp where she died and my mother was smuggled out of Germany and spent 9 years on the run in France, Switzerland, and Belgium, including a year in a detention camp in France (they were not called concentration camps). So, this is very personal.

I don't like seeing the word anywhere, but particularly not in the crossword. Why?--because the crossword is many things, but foremost it's entertainment. Who wants to be reminded of hatefulness, mass genocide and decades of suffering when you are doing the puzzle?

But I also read other comments and acknowledge that "Nazi" is a historical word.

But, every constructor knows that there are objections so, if you can easily avoid the word, why not?

I have completed thousands of puzzles, but could never construct one. I've tried with no success. So I admire the work of every constructor even when I don't like the puzzle. With this puzzle, it took me 10 seconds to re-fill that area: leaving "ironon" for 28A, I had abe for 37A, moe for 40A and creed for 43A. That leads to name for 29D, oboe for 30D and need for 31D.

I love the idea of a Queen tribute puzzle, but there was such poor fill (cuer, nuncio, etyma, seafish, fora).

In conclusion, if this doesn't brighten you day, nothing will:


kitshef 11:40 AM  

Queen's performance at Live Aid was voted in 2005 as the greatest live performance in the history of rock. Second place was Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock. To be fair, it was a British poll, and biased towards British acts.

jb129 11:41 AM  

This kept me going for a while & I'm happy about that. Didn't know Etyma though.

JustMarci 11:55 AM  

Sports terms are my downfall, every time. I really wanted “balm” for that rash decision, leaving me with “bater”. Once I filled in Crimea, talc was an easy fill. But “tater”? Gimme tots, not sports!

Oh, and Adios? You forgot your ounce of flounce...

Sufferin Succotash 11:58 AM  

I wasn’t one of the 1.5 billion people who watched LIVE AID, so this puzzle’s theme went in one cross reference and out the other. Thank God the puzzle was at least a pangram.

“Fragrance” seems like an odd clue for ODOR. as in “Pardon me, ma’am, but your Chanel No. 5 has quite a distinctive odor.” And I know what a TV MOM is, but what the hell is an ETY MA?

Couldn’t help but notice the MERCURY so close to that SEAFISH. Think I’ll have a veggie burger instead with some ENOKI on top and a TATER on the side. Then I’m going to apply for a job as a CUER in CRIMEA.

Masked and Anonymous 11:59 AM  

Hardly a NAZI fan, but -- shoot, them that ignore history are often doomed to re-live it.

@RP's re-do's of the NAZI sector were kinda neat. Commentary …

Altered state #1:
* A bit name-heavy, with BOWE/OVID/TAZO.
* Really like IROBOT. Schlocky.
* Deft implementation of pangrammery in one fell swoop, with WIZ.
* Missed opportunity to add U's.

Altered state #2:
* NICO (Type of tine?) & COZ (Cosby for short?) are the only two names. Somewhat better.
* Always feel sorry for poor JIMA, when I see a stand-alone IWO.
* IWO/IWON sure look a lot alike. So do COZ/COZY. Needin more pizzazz, here.
* Missed opportunity to add U's.

M&A humbly suggested save-the-nonnazi-pangram version:
28. Asimov novel with three rules for mechanical folks
37. A new ___
40. Aduba of "Orange is the New Black"
43. Guiding set of beliefs
29. So sad, they changed color?
30. That stuff at the bottom of the garbage pail that you could swear just moved
31. Lacking depth, informally [M&A knew @RP would really really enjoy this puppy]

staff weeject pick: UZO. Or ZIT. Or WIZ. Or COZ.

Thanx, Mr. Kahn. Congratz on yer first pangram.

Masked & Anonym007Us
[or Anonym8Us, dependin on yer version of choice]


Banana Diaquiri 12:06 PM  

data about humans, and their activities, are 'normal' only in the strict stat sense; most are not symmetric 'bell curves' but, rather, more or less skew right. somethings, like wealth and income, are violently skew right. and the IQ metrics are changed periodically to force symmetry.

jae 12:22 PM  

Tough. Loved the theme, did not like the puzzle.

QuasiMojo 12:50 PM  

High five to @Kieran from me too. And @Nancy, glad you caught the “somewhat” clue. I just hope someday soon we get a five-letter word that starts with N meaning “City in France.” It’s about time! :)

P.S. I forgot to mention earlier that I threw in FarmAid and then wondered why Queen would be in that. We need to stage a BENEFIT CONCERT featuring every rock, pop, rap, jazz, blues and Emo star still alive who’s appeared in the NYT puzzle. Call it CROSS-AID or PUZZ-AID. Pardon me if it’s already been done.

RobertM 1:05 PM  

The ETYMA/YSER cross was gettable from the, well, ETYMology. AVON/EVIE, however, was a DNFing Natick for me.

JC66 1:06 PM  


Agree with @Nancy, @Quasi, et al. @Rex can be hyper-sensitive.

Also, David Kahn is not one of his "bros."

Nancy 1:07 PM  

Is there an App that figures out whether a puzzle contains all 26 letters of the alphabet? Because if there isn't such an App, then I can't imagine a more tedious pastime than going through every puzzle one does and checking on the appearance or non-appearance of 26 different letters. What a chore that would be. And yet, tons of people on this blog always seem to know when a puzzle's a pangram. How do you know this, everyone? From one of the various puzzle bloggers? From an App you solve on? Or by counting letters? Even if I cared deeply about the pangram -- which I don't -- I doubt wouldn't want to go through the tedium of identifying one.

Z 1:09 PM  

One of the best things about the commentariat is the little solving hints thrown in here and there. Once again, @jberg has a good suggestion, “I’m writing it out here in the hope that that will help remember it last time.” Just about everything I’ve learned about rivers I’ve learned from crosswords, looking them up, and writing snarky comments so that Oise, Yser, Isere, Pee Dee, Elbe, Yalu, Lena, Neva don’t cause me a DNF.

I agree with @airymom.

@John Child - Just because he was a virgin....

@anon11:04 - LIVE AID raised money to try to address the famine in Ethiopia. It had nothing to do with the AIDS epidemic. I’m a little amazed that a DJ doesn’t remember it, it was reported in all the papers.

@kitshef - I don’t think it was even Queen’s best live performance. I think the setting has a lot to do with how people remember it. There’s a fair amount of Queen on the YouTube and it is the only performance I’ve seen where MERCURY’s voice cracks.

@banana - I don’t know about “most,” but lots of measurable things about humans are essentially described by a normal distribution (yeah, yeah, no one is 0’0” tall so outliers skew right, but the percentage of cases more than 3 standard deviations from the mean are still equal on both tails in any meaningful sense). The issue, to me, is that we take these observations and use them without clearly understanding how limited they actually are. Knowing what the stats tell us is dangerous without having a good grounding in what stats don’t tell us. For example, reading, knowing that most people who go to school will acquire reading as a skill between ages 3 and 9 is interesting, but it really doesn’t tell us much about why, how, or what’s best?

Teedmn 1:14 PM  

I became a QUEEN fan back in 1975 when our neighbor gave my brother a tape of songs from a couple of their albums. That said, I am so over BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. Heresy, I know, but it's been played to death on the radio. And on my husband's Pandora Queen station, it seems to be every third song. Gah. How about She Makes Me or Jealousy? Now those are great songs which haven't been played to death.

Anyway, the theme was easy to plug in once it was spotted though even with all of that acreage auto-filled, this didn't go fast. I blame NUNCIO and its ilk. And QUite before QUASI and Uber before TAXI. And staring at HEMIcycle which I did not know.

I did not get hung up by ETYMA-YSER because I know etymology is the study of words. I finally memorized it, as opposed to entomology, the study of insects, by remembering that "insect" is longer than "word" and ento is longer than ety. Yay, me.

David Kahn, I appreciate the tribute to a great singer and band.

Z 1:15 PM  

@Nancy1:07 - When I know it is because somebody told me. The information is always listed at xwordinfo.com, which includes the number of words, blocks, and letters not used. I do not know who actually checks. I do know some solvers appreciate pangrams. Personally, I’m with you.

Anonymous 1:15 PM  

Read the blog. Read the comments. Think: this place is not evil.
Try it again, and keep trying, until you believe it.
Or just vote for Trumpoids, it's exactly the same process.

Joe Dipinto 1:24 PM  

In no universe do I regard "Strangers On A Train" as film noir. A typical Hitchcock suspense thriller, yes, and a very good one. But film noir? No way.

Banana Diaquiri 1:38 PM  

but the percentage of cases more than 3 standard deviations from the mean are still equal on both tails in any meaningful sense

that's not what skew means: skew means that the tails *aren't* equal. just look up income distribution: http://theglitteringeye.com/u-s-income-distributiona-chart-to-contemplate/

that's how having most of the money in the hands of the 1% looks. :)

it might happen that the Area Under Curve is equal, but that, too, exemplifies inequality.

Johnny Whirlwind 2:38 PM  

An atrocious, steaming pile of garbage, which is an apt description of 50% of what the Times publishes these days.

GILL I. 2:49 PM  

If you come here often, then you know there are going to be some words that will trigger the wrath of our host.: Some clues that I recall...."Place with homies" > HOOD. "Gangsta rap characters" > THUGS.
One of OFL's favorite: "Normalize this racist conspiracy - this racist driven administration, and shove it up very, very......(Can you guess where?)......
Words he will explode about: NRA, MOIST, NAZI and anything anti feminist.
Well...we are all invited guests here. If we are seated at his table enjoying the roast beef he's serving and begins with what you deem a tirade, you always can excuse yourself politely and leave. Or, if you're like @Nancy, you can sit next to someone who has a fascinating story to share, completely ignore a bit of a rant you want no part of, continue to eat the fabulous roast beef and ultimately enjoy yourself.
The choosing is yours.
I, personally, will always have an open mind. If Im not comfortable with the conversation, I can always turn to my partner on my left or right or.....I can always look at my iPhone and tell everyone my dog is sick and I need to go home.
Just don't EVER tell me CHE is a hero; your roast beef might end up where the sun don't shine.

Doc John 3:05 PM  

Yeah, this puzzle was all over the place, theme-wise, but as soon as I saw NAZI, I thought to myself ("cue generic Rex NAZI rant"). Although your objectionable-words-to-make-a-pangram argument does hold water, as several previous commenters have pointed out before, it's JUST A WORD. It's not as if it was clued "those fine people who should have won WWII."
How about if it were clued, "Those people whose asses Captain America is always kicking." Better?
BTW, did you know that all the major Nazi characters in Hogan's Heroes (Klink, Schultz, Gen. Burkhalter, Maj. Hochstetter) were all played by Jews?
I also agree with the previous commenter who was more mad at ENRON's being clued so positively.
I'm drawn back to the treatment our lovely Andrea got for innocently using "chink" (in the armor) in a puzzle a few months back.
Dial back the outrage. Save it for what's really important- cheater squares and naticks.

BenM 3:10 PM  

This is absolutely horrendous. Terrible crossword puzzle. Awful answers. Let’s pretend it never happened.

RooMonster 3:20 PM  

Hey All !
Pangram-seeing. I notice individual letters, ala Q's, J's, Z's, and if I see them in a puz, I actually do go through the puz and identify all 26 letters. It really doesn't take that long.

Agree that Rex's outrage rant on NAZI was a bit much. Especially innocently clued as it was. Does he hate "Life Is Beautiful"? Or "Indiana Jones" movies? It seems it would be very tough to talk to Rex without getting his dander up.

I'm a big QUEEN fan. Sorta kinda remember LIVEAID. Was a teen in the 80's. There were a bunch of us in High School who went to Hands Across America. Remember that? I was in it! Kept my Line-Number Placard thingie for a long time. Don't think I still have it, though. I'm part of history! Even if no one knows. 😀

Found puz a little tricky. Took a bit to get the ole brain on the wavelength of the clues. Still had a DNF on a couple of letters. AH ME.

Just had a George STRAIT CONCERT here this past weekend. Crowds REACTED in AWE. YSER. 😀

CRIMEA a river...

Is I NICE self promotion? OR I ON STUD? Har.


NonnyinMA 3:26 PM  

Huh. I read the ENRON clue as ironic and you read it as positive. Neither of us has evidence of the constructor’s intent; the clue reported a fact and we applied our personal overlays to our interpretation. This must happen a lot.

Kiki 3:39 PM  

@Nancy, @JC66, @QuasiMojo...thanks for being here.

Kieran xxx

newspaperguy 4:02 PM  

You know what kind of nazis offend me? The language nazis, who demand that words that have an offensive connotation never appear in their sight. Grow the fuck up, Michael.

Outside The Box 5:08 PM  

Thought this was challenging for a Wednesday. I don’t get the hysteria about “Nazl.” Like other trigger words, Rex goes nuts about anything not politically correct. Get over it Rex.

Rational 5:10 PM  

I despise Nazis as much as Rex. But there is no end to a list of despicable groups in history. Plenty of groups who have slaughtered hordes of humans for religious and other stupid reasons. Should we rant when huns appear in the puzzle. Or Romans? Or Americans? Get real. It's a puzzle. I'm offended by circuses for their inhumane use of elephants and lions. And dwarfs. Should I rant every time a reference to a circus appears in the puzzle? Get over it.

Anonymous 5:19 PM  

I think part of the backlash against "Nazi" is because of how horrendously it was clued. "'Life is Beautiful' extra" sounds positively delightful (granted, I've never seen the film). At least make the clue be extremely negative if you insist on using it in your grid.

Yev Kassem 6:32 PM  

Get used to words in the lexicon and stop with the complaints. Why not ban The Producers?

For the record --83 times: 25 in Shortz Era,one in Variety puzzles, and 57 from pre-Shortz puzzles.

Hey, look at this: Sun Sep 27, 1942 Member of a European political party.

Crimson Devil 6:35 PM  

Agree with newsboy and Greg.
Lighten up; this is sposed to be fun.

Joe 6:46 PM  

ETYMA and YSER are what got me? These words exist in Emglish? On a Wednesday?

Whitey 7:00 PM  

4D is way more fun ON A DAtE than ON A DARE, just saying

"where else" is not a common enough follow up to "where" that this works as a stand alone clue. Needed crosses there.


Xword Fan 7:19 PM  

@Joe: Yser is a common crossword answer. Remember it. No idea about ETYMA, If it was in today’s puzzle I missed it. Happy that the consensus among comments is that Rex is wrong about Nazi . I hope Mr. Shortz is paying attention.

Z 7:56 PM  

“@banana - I don’t know about “most,” but lots of measurable things about humans are essentially described by a normal distribution.” (emphasis addded)

bauskern 9:28 PM  

Fairly new to this forum, but i have to say I'm already finding the moderator's constant grumblings a bit too much to stomach. If the puzzles are this painful for him, perhaps he needs to take up a new hobby. I found today's puzzle to be pretty easy, but TATER as a slang term for home runs??!! Never heard that term before! :)

Crimson Devil 10:11 PM  

Oh yes, Big Tater = long fly=dinger, all in classic Bull Durham. Crash to Nuke on bus w/ cliches in prep for “the show” memorable.

Banana Diaquiri 10:18 PM  


once again, being normal doesn't ipso facto mean that the distribution is *symmetric* a la 'the bell curve'. income, fur instence, can be fitted by a normal equation. but said equation has a vicious right skew. it just does. that's the prime reason that honest stats don't cite mean as the primary parameter of such distributions. they cite median. citing mean/average of such distributions is a biased estimate of central tendency, since the high values enjoyed by the few bias the mean. the mean makes it appear that Joe Average really gets the average. Joe Average just doesn't. skew is a defined moment of the normal distribution, and can be symmetric or not. saying that 3 standard deviations covers 99.73% of the domain says nothing about who gets most of the goodies. again, go look at the distribution I gave you the link for. vicious right skew. worst since just before The Great Depression.

if you look at the general normal equation (see the wiki, it's too much of a mess to put here), it's not only described by mean and standard deviation, but at least skew and kurtosis. the normal is nearly infinitely flexible, which is the reason that virtually all other distributions can be simulated with the normal in sampling problems if the sample size is large enough.

here endeth the lesson.

Unknown 4:14 PM  

Someone please do this. It would take a genius though. I suck at constructing.

Burma Shave 9:53 AM  


but the ISSUE GUIDEd his fate:
and QUEEN, after DIRE STRAITs.


spacecraft 10:39 AM  

*sigh* I knew OFL would go off his gourd about 29d. Let's get this straight. There's a difference between honoring a thing and acknowledging its existence. What about its appearance in a crossword grid honors it?? Nothing. But it was a real thing. It existed. Actually (unfortunately), some say it still does, with a NEO- in front of it. It's just a bit of fill, so take a chill pill!

Speaking of prefixes, the clue for 39-down should read "Somewhat (prefix)." I know, QUASI is listed as a separate word, but that's a lot rarer. I had this I- ending, and spent many nanominutes trying to figure it out. Forgot where Darfur was; not strong on my geography. Anyway, got that cleared up, and suddenly lots of stuff became obvious, including the circles--a theme-intensifying feature that must have put a DIRE strain on the fill. As OFL said, the theme, once busted, was laughably easy; the fill not so much. Ergo "medium" is about right for an averAGE NORM.

Casting about for a DOD, I found one right in the middle of everything: QUEEN Latifah! You go girl! I give this a birdie: Scaramouche will do the fandango!

rondo 10:43 AM  

I guess the QUEEN FORA day is FREDDIE MERCURY (not a yeah baby in sight) and his band performing at LIVEAID.
I saw QUEEN in CONCERT on March 3, 1976 from the front row of the balcony at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium in beautiful downtown St. Paul, MN. Opening act was Kansas. $15 a pop. What a show by two of the hottest bands of the time. I drove a carload of three couples into town to see the CONCERT. Thank you again, Grace, for the after-party.

After filling the NW corner FREDDIE and MERCURY and BOHEMIAN and RHAPSODY were sooooo obvious and the rest fell quickly. I knew OFL would go off on NAZI, but there’s other fill problems, too.

Never saw DIRE STRAITs as a band, but have seen Mark Knopfler once and have tickets to see him next August 30. He may toss in a DIRE STRAITs song or two.

Thanks to Mr. Kahn for evoking memories through this puz.

thefogman 10:45 AM  

Mamma mia! What a great tribute puzzle, aside from one ISSUE. I ERASEd a few entries and got 99% of it but I DYED at 60A. I had iSER not YSER. I kind of knew 50D was ETYMA but was not sure if it took an I ANDOR a Y. I'll be STRAIT. That was rather LAX FORA Wednesday. AWE! CRIMEA river...

centralscrewtinizer 2:03 PM  

I love etymology. So it is ironic I missed seeing its own root. I got the sound of the river but not the spelling and have a pretty good string going of stupid little oversights causing dnfs. Sigh.

Diana, LIW 2:44 PM  

The circles gave it all away. Saw the revealer, and then QUEEN, FREDDIE et.alia just filled in. And I used to teach etymology as part of a course on how to learn. Miss teaching that course most of all in retirement.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

manitoba 4:16 PM  

By far, the greatest live performance by Queen.

leftcoastTAM 5:42 PM  

BOHEMIAN RHAPOSODY theme and themers are very good, pulling things together symmetrically. That's the best part.

The worst part? NAZI. Take another look at what Rex said. Further, that role was not just that of an "extra" in "Life is Beautiful", but implicitly at the center of it. That story revolved around that horrendous era. It isn't enough to say, "Well it's part of history, blah, blah, blah...." Fine, let history excoriate it in the full treatment it deserves as a simple puzzle like this never will.


Anonymous 9:47 PM  

One of the greatest live performances by David Kahn.

And for everyone whose sensibilities are disturbed by the appearance of a Nazi answer, why doesn't the appearance in other puzzles of Obama, or Clinton, or Bush answers not evoke the same reaction ? Just as Hitler ordered the extermination of Jews in his gas chambers our aforementioned tyrants ordered the extermination of Muslims via their air strikes, drones, and other pet military weapons.

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