Early settler of Nova Scotia / TUE 4-9-19 / Ice dancing gold medalist Virtue

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Constructor: Alex Eaton-Salners

Relative difficulty: Challenging (absurd to run this on Tuesday) (5:55)

THEME: there's a "Note"! What fun ... :( 

Theme answers:
  • all the Acrosses, I guess
Word of the Day: EPT (60D: Competent, jocularly) —
Oxford credits the New Yorker writer E. B. White with the first recorded use of “ept.” In a letter dated October 1938, he said, “I am much obliged … to you for your warm, courteous, and ept treatment of a rather weak, skinny subject.”
The dictionary says “ept” means adroit, appropriate, or effective. It describes the word as a back-formation and “deliberate antonym” of “inept.” A back-formation is a word formed by dropping part of an earlier word.
Although the OED doesn’t have entries for “ane” or “ert,” it does include them (as humorous antonyms for “inane” and “inert”) in its entry for “ept.”
Here’s the citation, from the Sept. 7, 1966, issue of Time magazine: With the exception of one or two semantic twisters, I think it is a first-rate job—definitely ept, ane and ert.” (grammarphobia.com)
• • •

Pointless nonsense (a) that had no business appearing on a Tuesday (b). The NYT continues to cannibalize itself, ripping off older puzzle themes that it ran years ago. This one is a bad imitation of a puzzle that I also didn't enjoy, but that had a point—Joe Krozel did this play on a crossword's conventional rotational symmetry by having the Across answers in the grid actually be rotationally symmetrical as well. So, e.g. when LAMINA appeared in the E (which it did, memorably), ANIMAL appeared in the W. Instead of the solver's having to guess, with no clues and no rationale, which of each Across clue's two answers goes forward and which backward, Krozel's puzzle had internal logic for the "backward," and none of this split-clue stuff.  Here's that grid:

See the rotational symmetry! Unlike today's, with its bone-stupid "Note," which ... kind of ruins the whole "gimmick." What kind of puzzle just tells you its premise right off the bat???

So the NYT plagiarizes itself, badly, producing a degraded, pointless version of a show-offy puzzle that was never that pleasant to solve in the first place. Amazing.

Let's see, anything worth talking about?  ... Well, there's DIALLED, ugh (44D: Phoned, to Brits). And ACADIAN—fine word, not a Tuesday word, though (42D: Early settler of Nova Scotia). Most of the difficulty came from just flailing around with the Acrosses. I wrote in IDO for CIO (9D: Union letters), and had ATIME before ATIDE (2D: "There is ___ in the affairs of men ...": Shak.). Every other error involved writing in the backward forward or the forward backward. This is like one of Dr. Frankenstein's failed early attempts. It needs so much work. It needs a title / revealer, for one. And then it needs to run on Thursday, for two. There is No Rationale for the Across clues. Randomness is not a rationale! I have no idea how hard this was to make, but I know how horrible it was to solve. If you do not consider solver experience when constructing your look-at-me! puzzles, please start. Please. Good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


GHarris 6:02 AM  

My version online did not have a note so I had to grok the theme all on my own. Once I figured out what was going on it was a fun excursion to find the words and the right direction. Enjoyed it.

Nkptny 6:12 AM  

I hated this puzzle so much. That’s all.

Loren Muse Smith 6:14 AM  

I have to agree that this conceit feels Thursdayish. Without a note. But with the note, I don’t object to its being run on a Tuesday.

Rex – you said, “. . .puzzle that was never that pleasant to solve in the first place.” I’m often truly confused at the polarized takes you and I have on the solving experience. I thoroughly enjoyed the Rubik’s cubesome experience solving this. Maybe the difference for us is that I’m not racing a clock; I’m just savoring my first cup of coffee, taking my time, being all like wow man, cool. I can see where people who go for speed would be miffed this morning. I get that speed-solving is your jam. Heck – it almost has to be ‘cause you need to get’er done and then do your write-up. Left to my own devices, any daily write-up of mine wouldn’t be ready until late afternoon. So I’m eternally grateful that you solve quickly and post your comments so early.

I appreciated SOPHIST/SCAM. Ok – full disclosure – I didn’t really know who a SOPHIST was, so once I looked that up, I mean, c’mon… I can imagine an interview for becoming a White House Press Secretary?

Q: Are you a sophist? If not, can you learn to be on the fly? Like, can you skew the data ATAD?

The most famous semordnilap in my world is DESSERTS, so I kept expecting that one.

Hard for me not to keep going back and looking at DIALLED. Who knew that they spelled it that way? We have travelled/traveled, benefitting/benefiting, cancelled/canceled, blah blah. Still. How English can be spelt is a pesky little problem

Alex – I'm with @GHarris. I really enjoyed this challenge. When I finally realised it would be easier focussing on the downs first to help me decide the directions for the semordnilaps, the solve went faster. Bravo to you for pulling this off! And congrats on receiving the honour of the POW!

Jofried 6:22 AM  

Ugh. Annoying, irritating puzzle. I didn’t read the note but it still wasn’t hard to figure out what was going on. I just didn’t enjoy it at all.

The Bard 6:27 AM  

Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3

There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

Anonymous 6:32 AM  

You must be fun at parties

lizz 6:40 AM  

I found this to be really fun to solve, but weird choice for a Tuesday.

Anonymous 6:46 AM  

I agree with You Loren, 100%

Someone who actually enjoys creativity 6:50 AM  

I've read this blog for a while, but never comment. So here's the first.
Your berating of this puzzle is completely out of hand to me.
This was a wonderfully crafted puzzle and a creative conceit. The double clue premise introduced a whole new level of the puzzle that I had never seen before.
Rex, I think your mind is stuck. You can't seem to enjoy any kind of puzzle that actually tries to play with the constraints of the genre.
I am seriously baffled at the level of close-mindedness present in someone who is obviously so sharp.

Floyd 6:51 AM  

I agree with Loren. This was a joy to solve. It may have helped that I never look at the notes until I’m stuck.

webwinger 6:53 AM  

The NYT app version contained the note, but I didn't notice it until I was done. Certainly challenging for Tuesday! I kind of liked that you had to get at least one, sometimes two or three, crossing down words to know which of the two across answers went in which direction, even though in many cases it wasn't hard to get the pair from the across cluing alone.

Is there a name for this kind of word pair? As @LMS seems to be suggesting, they are sort of like palindromes, but not. Some of them do appear as elements in palindromic phrases, though (ABLE/ELBA).

I give this credit for being an impressive feat of construction, but it certainly wasn't a joy to solve for me. Literally gave me a headache...

Hungry Mother 6:56 AM  

Great fun this morning! Such a neat idea, requiring real brain power to solve.

Cassieopia 6:58 AM  

This was one of those puzzles where I was thoroughly impressed with the construction, but my solving experience was an irritating slog. I think if this puzzle had run on a Thursday, without the note, I would have enjoyed it a ton more. Instead, I kept thinking, "why? why?" and got more and more peeved as I tried to suss out whether the California schls were USC or CSU. However the puzzle is a marvel of construction. Just as food looks best plated on plain white dinnerware, this puzzle would have been best served on Thursday, without the note. Then instead of dreading each across, I would have been puzzling and puzzling and been so incredibly delighted with myself when (or if!) I discovered the trick. The key is the presentation.

Absolutely loved finding ACADIAN today. I had the privilege of living in far northern Maine for four years, which is very heavily influenced by Acadian culture. The language, a meld of French, English, and heaven knows what, was a language lover's paradise. "Turn off the light" was "shut the light". Long johns were john longs. And the local lilt of the spoken language was downright musical.

A snippet of one of my cultural memories from that magic time: John Glenn was entertaining a presidential run, and came to Fort Kent Maine the spring of 1983. Time magazine ran a small bit on his trip, commenting on how this small town was so excited to have this American Hero visit that the local housewives were washing the outside fronts of their houses. What the Time reporter did not realize was that spring was the time of the "Grand Menage" - spring cleaning to the nth degree - and that house fronts were washed from the winter's grime regardless of whether honorable senators paid a visit.

TLDR: A potentially marvelous puzzle ruined by running it on the wrong day and spoiling the revealer, but redeemed in my mind by ACADIAN.

Anonymous 7:03 AM  

I'm with Loren.

Hungry Mother 7:05 AM  

I didn’t realize that I am supposed to read the notes before starting. I never do, because I think of it as cheating along the lines of Googling.

tbd88 7:14 AM  

Absolutely with webwinger and Cassieopia. I very much admire the amount of work that must have gone into this puzzle from the point of view of appreciating things that are intricately constructed.

From the point of view of liking to solve crosswords, it was misery.

JHC 7:15 AM  

I have a hypothesis: whether you enjoyed this puzzle depends on how you solve. If you like to relax and take your time and don't care about the clock, this was a fun conceit (I feel that way about cryptics). If you're solving for speed, and adjusting your expectations based on the day of the week, this was a slog.

For my part, trying to solve the puzzle in a moment before jumping into dressing the kids and packing their lunches, I was annoyed. ("Savoring my first cup of coffee" @Loren is a collection of words I understand individually but cannot parse as a phrase on a Tuesday.) But if you enjoyed the puzzle, good for you.

I do think that that center square is an objectively bad crossing. A baseball player from 60-70 years ago and not one but TWO colleges identified only by their sports teams? It could be practically any consonant, and if you aren't a sports person, you have no help. I can't be the only person who finished the rest of the puzzle, and then just ran the alphabet till the app told me I was done.

Anonymous 7:19 AM  

Thank you, Loren! I have wondered how my experience is often so different than Rex’s. It’s the racing the clock thing. I didn’t look at the note but I figured it out using the downs and loved it as I sat here savoring my coffee and the (finally) spring air.

70 in Nampa 7:22 AM  

Personally don't care about the sliding scale of difficulty.
I'd like "Fridays" all week.
So I was fine with this. Sure needed the downs for the acrosses. No note on my iPhone version.
Onward and upward...

Anonymous 7:23 AM  

This blog could be aptly renamed Rex Parker Hates the NYT Crossword Puzzle

kitshef 7:24 AM  

I'm assuming "Call ending a rugby match" was just a gimme for everyone?

Nice to see TESSA Virtue again so soon. I feel like the last twelve years have been something of a golden age for ice dancing, and I wonder where it will go from here.

Agree it would have been better without the note and later in the week.

Beaglelover 7:28 AM  

It took me 52 minutes but, by god, I did it!!!!! Too hard for Tuesday.

Norm 7:30 AM  

Didn't hate it as much as a Rex but it was a slog to solve and not entertaining. The underlying concept of reversible words is cute, but the randomized orders of the clues was annoying. Why not alternate? Or use one order in the top and another in the bottom, and work in a revealer? This was just tiresome. Sort of the crossword puzzle that a air of stoned college kids might come up with late at night and think was really clever.

btgrover 7:33 AM  

Not a bad puzzle. Just not a Tuesday.

Jeffry 7:42 AM  

I think what made it a Tuesday was that once you had the down answer the dual issue of the across went away.

Flying Pediatrician 7:43 AM  

Can you please start your own blog?! Your comments make me happy every day!

Leslie 7:49 AM  

I'm with Loren, too. I didn't see the note, and had fun figuring it all out. I'm grateful to Rex for doing it quickly so this post can be up, but I'm sorry for him also. I enjoy crosswords with my coffee in the morning, slowly, waking up, appreciating the associations that run through my mind as I remember people, places and things. One example: reading Evangeline in high school, out loud in turn as we did then-- the poor boy whose turn involved the word "breast." But I loved the poem.

Anonymous 7:49 AM  

Agree with Hungry Mother -- I never checked the note (that's cheating) but had fun figuring it out on my own. Slowed me down a bit, but the puzzle itself wasn't hard.
LMS: Wish I had a Britishism to acknowledge the cleverness of your last paragraph -- brilliant!

Anonymous 7:55 AM  

Never saw the note, but got the theme rather quickly after I filled in some of the downs and then reconsidered some of the across clues. Agreed that it's a little tough for a Tuesday, but it was still a delight to solve.

Gretchen 8:05 AM  

This was easy. All I had to do was fill in the Downs first which showed which way the Acrosses should go. That said, the center was difficult and overall it wasn't fun. Should have been on a Thursday.

amyyanni 8:05 AM  

Serendipity: my training schedule called for me to do a pre-dawn session so I thought I'd get in a quick solve with a small coffee before heading out into the dark. HA! The upside is I had to think about until I got back and finish it. And no, @kitshef, the rugby clue was not a gimme. Edison I know, however, as his summer home/lab/gardens is a majorly big museum here.
Also didn't see the note and agree it would have been better on Thursday. Any annoyance gave way to consideration of how it must have been to construct .

Anonymous 8:09 AM  

I'm with Rex, this puzzle was terrible. The NYT crossword should be moderately accessible to the broader public on Mondays and Tuesdays, and this one just wasn't. I can appreciate the difficulty of construction, but that's not really a good excuse for a poorly placed puzzle.

Anonymous 8:10 AM  

Took longer than usual. Liked it. Never heard of kegel before.

Kps 8:13 AM  

Easy with the note... actually fun...
Except for the slugger!

QuasiMojo 8:17 AM  

I found it super easy and more than ATAD fun because once I got the theme I just read the second halves of the across clues and filled it in lickety split. BUT the clue for French water was flipped for some reason. NAIVE. The word Cajun which we had the other day is driven from ACADIAN. Nice post LMS.

Joe R. 8:17 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle a lot, but was very surprised to see it on a Tuesday. I agree it would have been better suited for later in the week.

Taffy-Kun 8:18 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
webwinger 8:21 AM  

Agree very much with JHC above. Appreciate the analogy to cryptic x-words, which I too enjoy when time is ample. Also re the central answer/square: Although my new home is just a mile away from Colorado State University (Go Rams!), and USC's Trojans are among very few team nicknames I know outside of my immediate vicinity (probably because they beat the Northwestern Wildcats in the 1996 Rose Bowl, to end an amazing season for NU that happened while I was on the faculty there), this was one of the last places to fill in my grid.

Linda Lou 8:28 AM  

Felt more like a Wednesday but otherwise fine. I’m with the 99% who don’t care that a similarly themed puzzle ran years ago. Also, the idea that the puzzle is a rip-off is mean-spirited and unfair. How can he know that this constructor didn’t come up with the same idea independently? It seems more likely than not to me that he did. Here’s to giving people the benefit of the doubt.

SandyM 8:29 AM  

Never saw the note. Enjoyed filling in the downs tho figure which way theacrosses went. Fun Tuesday. Could have been a Thursday. Grokked the trick at 4 across. Loved it.

Anonymous 8:29 AM  

Rarely comment but todayI must agree that this was a Thursday on a Tuesday and like several others, I never saw the note but got the idea in the north center after doing the downs. Then it was figuring out which direction to go with each across clue! For construction, this puzzle is impressive and I enjoyed the solve. Always fun figuring out 'the trick'. A quick comment on the rugby clue. I played the game for 4 years but never remember hearing 'no side' at the end of the game although by that time all we were interested in was winning the post-game party. And... I'm 100% with LMS on this one.

Cassieopia 8:34 AM  

@JHC 7:15 re: hypothesis. I'm definitely not a speed solver, and do savor the crossword with my coffee. However you may have a point about Tuesday vs Thursday expectations. That's the problem with persistent patterns - once a pattern is set, expectations accompany. But I like your point and think if I had more relaxed expectations, and had not read the note, I may have enjoyed the solve a bit more.

webwinger 8:35 AM  

One last thing: On reviewing today's comment from @LMS I noticed that the first occurrence of "semordnilap" was a link--to a definition (not sure how authoritative, but still) that exactly describes the across entries in this puzzle. That word, of course, is "palindromes" spelled backward.

mmorgan 8:35 AM  

Don’t the British ring someone rather than dial them?

Yay! I knew Rex would hate this! I got it right!

I kinda liked it fine though.

The problem with the earlier version that Rex likes better is that when you get, say, ANIMAL, you just know to go to the point of symmetry and write in LAMINA. So half the puzzle is irrelevant. No?

FPBear 8:37 AM  

Really truly annoying!

Taffy-Kun 8:39 AM  

OK I concede - @lms and Don from Accounting aren’t the same person. But where did he go? When they both post it turns on the light in my wheelhouse. Aaarrr!

mm 8:39 AM  

Lara Logan's a journalist??

GILL I. 8:52 AM  

I suppose if your life long mission while doing a crossword puzzle is for speed alone and no enjoyment, you'd find this unpleasant. Neither entered my mind today. Admittedly, it did have to grow on me...and it did.
I'm not too good at deciphering backwards. Brain problems. I'm thinking @Lewis whizzed through this one.
I guess I cheated because I read the note. I always do. Figure it must be something important.
The downs were crucial for me and they weren't exactly that easy. That's what made this fun. You'd get the R from OPRAH/HARPO and had to guess which way the TIDE would turn.
Loved seeing ACADIAN and remembering when my step-mom tried to explain to me that Quebec French has no place using the word French. MadrileƱos feel the same way when listening to someone from Sevilla. Such language snobs in this frail world. Maybe that's why I love Spanglish. The more I can mangle, the more whee's I get.
Thanks for the hard work @Alex. I, for one, enjoyed the work-out.

Wm. C. 8:57 AM  

Like others, this one played later-in-the-week for me, with a few consultations from Professor Google.

However, despite a few head-scratching, annoyed delays, I liked it! A few of the Aha-Moments brought a smile to my face. As someone above said: (a) so what if a thematically-similar puzzle ran pretty far in the past; and (b) it's ill-spirited of you to assume that the constructor knew of this.

Anonymous 8:59 AM  

Lighten, up, Rex. Can't you enjoy a puzzle for what it is? Just a diversionary mental exercise to escape the kakistocracy on Pennsylvania Avenue? Speed, shmeed. Who cares how fast you solve a puzzle? I agree with Loren and others. Stop and smell the roses, Rex.

Sir Hillary 9:01 AM  

I don't mind gimmicks every once in while, don't remember Joe Krozel's puzzle and don't care what day of the week things run. So this didn't bother me that much, at least not as an idea.

However, the constraints of this particular gimmick produce some unfortunate results:
-- A uber-reliance on common ANTLERS letters.
-- No Acrosses longer than seven letters, and just two Downs of eights letters. Booooooring.
-- Somehow the Downs seems to be crappier than the Acrosses. EPT, ANART, ATIDE, REPUT, PALO -- yikes!

Wasn't it @Lewis who noted last week that TESSA reversed to ASSET? Who says ESP isn't REAL?

Favorite themer, as clued: USC/CSU.

Downs that could be themers: DAS/SAD (what DAS is in a puzzle), MES/SEM (junk fill either way!) DESIRE/ERISED (read "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone") and of course the SSS/PEP/RADAR trio. ;)

Decent idea lacking in execution.

Karl Grouch 9:04 AM  

This was so darn drah but what a huge kcik!
Pitty and strange it wasn't published later in the keew.
I so much wanted this to go on as long as possible that I excruciatingly took my time to complete the zup..
I have only words of lloxte for the constructor:
Before thee, AES sir, I bow my daeh!

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

Even without knowing the Trojans are from USC, (welcome out from under rock), the S is in a huge number of schools meaning south or state.surmiseable counts as legit in my book.

Lewis 9:05 AM  

Joe Krozel's puzzle ran 11 years ago, and, by the way, was a Tuesday puzzle. It is an emordnilap puzzle, as is Alex's, but Alex's has twice as many emordnilap across answers (and twice as many across clues), that is, in Joe's puzzle the emordnilap across answers are paired with their mates, and in Alex's, each stands independently. To me, the two puzzles are variations on a theme, but "plagiarism" sounds too strong.

What I'd love to see Joe do is make an emordnilap puzzle Alex-style, but have it work with both acrosses and downs. That's the next step. Can it be done, Joe?

As others have said, a Thursday without a note, and may I add, with tougher cluing, would have been lovely, but as Loren said, with the note, Tuesday works fine, though on the more difficult side of Tuesday.

Something noted by a commenter on another blog: The double clues are placed alphabetically.

The all-important question -- how was the solve? Much more involving than the average Tuesday for me, figuring out, like others, to do the downs first, then figuring out the across answers, while enjoying the profusion of emordnilaps, which appeal to my look-at-words-backward nature.

Alex describes in his notes how tough this was to make, and sir, thank you for taking the trouble -- you certainly brightened my day!

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

I liked it! The good thing about the two clues for the across meant you always knew if you had it right or not. Again maybe a difference between speed solving (which I don't do) and actually taking time to enjoy the puzzle. Plus if you like wordplay (turns out lots of crossword solvers strangely don't seem to) then it was good from that standpoint, too.

KAS 9:12 AM  

@flying pediatrician (7:43 am) assuming that your comment is directed to Loren, I was just having that thought when I read your note. I often find myself scrolling through to find her entry and feeling disappointed if there isn’t one.

And Loren, thanks for your contributions here: analytical; filled with interesting observations, side notes, and links I actually click on; and always kind.

Canook 9:14 AM  

DNFed on ROSEN/USC because I live in an igloo and don't watch American sports. In counterpoint to some of the theorizing in earlier comments, I will say that I solve for speed and also enjoyed the puzzle. As a few others have observed, it wasn't terribly hard if you work around the conceit by focusing on the downs. Finished well within average time for a Tuesday (because I noted the note), and would have been 30s under if not for a typo. I particularly appreciated that the fill was decent Tuesday-ish quality forwards, backwards, and down, except for EPT. I will try to work it into my conversation today and see how EPT people think I am.

burtonkd 9:15 AM  

Difference is that a palindrome is spelled the same forward and backward.
OOZY RAT IN A SANITARY ZOO is a personal favorite.
Today’s answers are a good place to start if you were to construct one.
Weird Al did a fantastic take on this as BOB Dylan

RAD2626 9:18 AM  

I totally agree with @Lewis. To say this puzzle is plagiarized from the earlier very cool Krozer effort is silly. Like saying change a letter or quip puzzles are all stolen ideas. I don't this this was even derivative. All the palindromes are in the same slots only, meaning this puzzle needed roughly twice as many. I was glad for the note. When I first started I filled in PALO and scratched my head. Once I read the note it became easier. Terrific idea and very well executed.

Nancy 9:19 AM  

This must have been a bear to construct and the result was a crunchy and interesting challenge for the solver. I really enjoyed it. As I raced through the NW without A TAD of trouble, I thought it would be easy: all I needed was one Down answer per Across entry. But as I moved East, it got harder and my speed decreased. Had trouble with GILA/ALIG (Huh?) and couldn't see the G in MA-NETS for the life of me. Had TINts before TINGE (53D) and 24D was a real woe.

Speaking of 24D, it's my only nit with this excellent puzzle. REPUT is not a word and it's even worse as clued. The constructor obviously needed it -- and the puzzle would not be very forgiving of having to change the fill -- but I would have preferred "Place differently" or "Move to a new location" or something like that. Who says "Can you REPUT that question, please"?

But other than that, a nice brain exercise. Great to have that amount of challenge on a Tuesday.

QuasiMojo 9:19 AM  

Re my earlier post. 8:17am. “Derived” not “driven” — autocorrect and I speak different languages.

Blue Stater 9:21 AM  

I got this in 12:19 without seeing the note, rather a triumph for me with a "crossword puzzle" that, typically for the WS era, went well over the line in trickery and obscurity. I'm with Rex: this was a hot mess. For Games magazine, fine; for the NYTXW, not so much, particularly for a Tuesday.

Anonymous 9:21 AM  

Solving experience? I was completely in awe that someone could create a puzzle where EVERY SINGLE ACROSS was a palindrome and marveled at the genius of the puzzler. Well done, sir!

I simply cannot fathom that someone could have a negative experience doing this. It's a puzzle for crying out loud!

Rex's clear bias against the NYT is unfortunate because he throws really talented people, such as this puzzle creator, under the bus. Why, Rex?. (Careful, your starting to sound a lot like Donald Trump.)

pmdm 9:25 AM  

Wow! What an assortment of comments. Where to start?

1) When you solve a puzzle, you use all possible clues to work out the solution. You can impose whatever caveats you like to make the solve more challenging, but to force the whole world into following your personal rules is simply a study in egomania. I don't care if a person reads notes or not, but it is NOT in any way cheating to read the notes. Even if you are being jocular, please don't criticize how others solve the puzzle.

2) I think the basic rule for NYT crossword "easiness" is that early in the week the entries are easy to determine from the clues. As the week progresses, the clues become trickier and/or there are more possibilities for correct entries. From this viewpoint, the puzzle is a Tuesday puzzle. Yes, it was more difficult to figure out which way to fill in the across entries. But if you filled in the down entries first, solving the clues was not much more difficult than typical for the Tuesday puzzle. It's just that the problem of figuring out which way to fill in the across entries slowed the process down. Some liked the added challenge, some didn't. To each his own.

3) JHC pretty much said what I intended to observe. Some might dislike the puzzle because of the added mental effort it requires (one that not everyone likes and appreciates, but those whose speed is important to them might dislike the puzzle because of the effect it has on their solving time. To them I say: comparing solving times for today's puzzle with normal puzzles is like comparing apples to oranges. So don't.

4) Once again Mr. Sharp bitterly complains about repeating a theme. It seems to me to be an absurd complaint. I doubt very many solvers were bothered by any duplication, especially given the time lag between publication dates.

4) Mr Chen awarded the this a POW designation. His comments seem a lot more informative than the comments in the write-up for this blog. While the comments here accurately reflect one person's analysis, and may mirror how some other people feel, I find them to originate in a reality I do not share. Are they wrong? As statements revealer one's emotions, no. As reflective on the worth of the puzzle, yes.

For the record, I thoroughly enjoyed today's puzzle. I like easy puzzles with minimal PPP, but sometimes the Monday and Tuesday puzzles don't quite his the spot for me. Today's puzzle turned a very simple puzzle into a more challenging one in a way that pleased me. If all the "reverse" across clues and the puzzle's gimmick were removed, I would have found the puzzle too easy.


Anonymous 9:26 AM  

For what it’s worth, I love it when Rex trashes a puzzle, even those that I like. It’s like watching Mr Fields in the old Abbot and Costello movies doing a slow burn. Just fun and funny to watch.

RooMonster 9:27 AM  

Hey All !
I agree with the 'must've been tough to construct' crowd. Apparently it was, as there are a plethora of blocks, 50, which is ATON/NOTA normal thing. But, it did help with the forward/backward fill, and kept the puz dreck free (or dreck lite, if you prefer.)

I enjoyed this puz. Was frustrating in a few spots. And, of course, got my one-letter DNF. Man, all that work, and a DNF. Had a C for cMA, giving me NAIcE for Green/Water from France, not understanding either answer, but the ole brain was through by that time. Bummer!

REask for REPUT threw a nice curveball in the solve. Some of the Downs can be reversed, if you look close enough. I'm sure a good story can be made out of some reversed Downs, but like I said, brain finished. Plus, I'm sure you wouldn't care! :-)



burtonkd 9:27 AM  

This shows that the time it takes to solve isn’t always a good measuring stick for difficulty. Almost all the acrosses are short very familiar words and weren’t hard to figure out once you got a foothold through the downs. It did however take time and made for a fun, though lengthy solve. Different enough from earlier puzzle to justify even if it was known from database.

Mikey from El Prado 9:34 AM  

I believe that most of the complaints about this puzzle are due to the time it took to complete and not really about the difficulty level not commensurate with a typical Tuesday solve. It really was an easy solve, but took time to suss the direction of each across answer, which in most cases (all?) required solving and entering at least one down word. Thus, many solvers are frustrated that their Tuesday averages took a slight hit. My time was certainly above my average, but only raised that by a second overall. No big deal, and it was a good mind exercise.

brian 9:35 AM  

I genuinely don't understand why people are going to the mat in defense of this puzzle. "It's up to you to determine which clue goes with which word" means "Guess what I'm thinking." It's not fun; it's arbitrary.

If the cluing had simply been consistent, then I'd have appreciated the gimmick more. As it was, the puzzle just added a level of "work" that exploited my neurotic compulsion to leave no puzzle unfinished. If I were a saner person, I'd have just put the puzzle down and moved on with my life.

FrostMo 9:36 AM  

Slogged through this after the natty last night. Don’t think it would have been much faster if I’d waited until morning. My biggest issue with this as a Tuesday is some of the acrosses had really tough clues for both directions, and in a lot of spots there wasn’t relief from the downs. The theme itself, while not that fun for me, would have been fine as a Tuesday apart from that.

Anyway, this Tuesday feels like about a Thursday at work, and maybe the NYT is feeling the same way.

Pickle 9:41 AM  

My god yes please start your own blog Loren. I’ve long-since wearied of Rex’s mean-spiritedness but continue coming back here every day for your take.

MKK 9:43 AM  

Agree that this blog could be named “Rex Parker Hates the NYT Crossword Puzzle.”

Bernie 9:46 AM  

I have no issues with using a theme that was used previously. Like many other people, I haven't been doing this thing for 40 years, so what is a rerun to you is fresh to us. I didn't particularly enjoy this puzzle, but its not because the theme had been done before.

Hartley70 9:48 AM  


Off to a slow start because I don’t read notes on the app until I’m done and so the NW corner start was one big huh? How great is that on a Tuesday?!! I’ll take a Thursday trick any day of the week and since I savor the time I spend on the puzzle I don’t get twitched if a Tuesday takes me 3X my Tuesday average. It did. I had to laugh at myself because I am truly terrible at solving right to left. The best part of all to me is that I couldn’t rely on the clue order to give me a direction. Way to make us STUN/NUTS, Alex!

Anonymous 9:49 AM  

I agree with Rex that this was challenging for a Tue. My solve time was similar to a Thu. But unlike Rex I really enjoyed solving it. I didn’t see the note, which slowed me down at first, but honestly it only took a minute or two to see the theme, and anyway figuring out the theme is part of the fun. I found this clever and creative and really enjoyed the experience. And the acrosses really give you 2 chances to solve. There were several that I got only 1 of 2 but that’s sufficient for solving. I don’t solve for time. Maybe that is Rex’s frustration. It left me with a big smile this morning. Thank you Alex!

David Z 9:54 AM  

@Everyone who hates Rex - I get it. You hate Rex. You're entitled to that. However, if you feel the need to voice that hatred, why not email him directly? His email address is right on the home page under the bold Contact Me. Tell him he's a mean spirited grinch. Tell him his politics are all wrong. Tell him he should leave his politics off of his blog. Tell him he should solve slowly. Tell him he should solve only after sex. Tell him whatever the hell you want to tell him. Go wild.

But, please don't post that here. If you have a salient opinion about the puzzle, or why Rex is wrong, by all means share it. The comments section just can't be half full of people hating on Rex. It's boring and tiresome.

pabloinnh 9:58 AM  

Stunt puzzle! (I always love saying "stunt puzzle".) Agree with all who have said no notes, a Thursday. The notes should have come with a spoiler alert.

There seems to be some confusion concerning what a palindrome is. One of my favorites is

He goddam mad dog, eh?

which is vaguely Acadian.

Also very nice to see granddaughter's name TESSA again so soon, as today is her birthday (mine too, to be honest).

Thanks for the fun, Mr. E-S. I liked this one just fine.

Z 9:58 AM  

Wow. I find myself disagreeing with just about everyone. First, super easy. Lots of across clues were read just to confirm. Get a few downs and what fits? Second, No, @Lewis, NO! Please don’t encourage anyone to do another. It’s like asking for a sequel to a cult movie. I mean, I like Rocky Horror as much as anyone but we do not need a Rocky Horror II. And @LMS - I don’t solve for speed and found this utterly charmless. Ooh, looky... letters make words and sometimes you can use the same letters to make different words. This is just a specialized form of anagrams. Anagrams are kind of fun. CrossWORD puzzles based on anagrams are just tiresome. Shocking news, Z doesn’t like a letter play based puzzle. Finally, can everyone please not use a term like “plagiarize” willy nilly. This is a similar idea done differently. That’s not the same thing.

One thing I do agree with, the note is unnecessary, insulting even. I mean, you’re looking at all these across clues with @merican’s favorite form of punctuation. How long was it going to take anyone to figure out what was happening? Please Please Please NYTX, just say “no” to titles and notes. Give your solvers a little credit. BTW - In the print version one has to actively ignore the note, something I sadly failed to do.

@Pete late yesterday - You do realize I was just providing a short RECAP/PACER of the blog-writer’s topic, don’t you? Why don’t you go ahead and mansplain that distinction to the woman who wrote that blog.

Cyclist227 10:00 AM  

I thought this puzzle was "faux-challenging." It was a time consuming slog for a Tuesday, for sure. But it was entirely do-able. I found it pretty annoying.

deerfencer 10:02 AM  

Am I the only one to try—and get completely hung up on—putting MYTHIST in the NE corner? Puzzle is a very impressive construction and worthy brain stretch. Kudos to Alex for the workout!

nyc_lo 10:03 AM  

The note was not obvious on my app, so took awhile to see what was happening. Much faster going after sussing it out, but I was annoyed at the random back-and-forth clueing. Didn’t realize that was supposed to be all part of the “fun.” Had it been a Saturday, or even a Thursday, I might have been more prepared for it, but it just felt like a poke in the eye on a Tuesday.

Joaquin 10:36 AM  

As an old, retired guy I sometimes forget what day of the week it is. This puzzle had me scratching my head thinking I must have slept through a couple of days. Sure seemed like a Thursday solve. Other than that, it was a great challenge and a lot of fun.

PaulLongname 10:36 AM  

My first comment on any puzzle. I thank Rex for his comments so consistently written with wit, humor, and speed. I am not a speed solver and admired this puzzles construction and thoroughly enjoyed solving it. It was a Tuesday puzzle if speed was irrelevant -- thoroughly solvable without crossword expertise typically needed for, say, Fridays.

I agree with all the speed comments. It had seemed a bit odd that getting slowed down -- needing to "slog" through -- equaled a bad puzzle. But I understand better than ever the dichotomy between the two types of solvers, the professionals and the amateurs!

Doug Garr 10:53 AM  

Agree with Rex wholeheartedly. First, I thought, this feels more like a Thursday puzzle. I got about half way through and gave up. Came back and finished it fairly easily when my brain got a breather. Two or three times I put the across in the wrong way, and that, duh, slowed me down even more because the downs didn't make any sense. So, all in all, not a very fun solve.

old timer 11:04 AM  

On reading @Rex's screed today, my first impulse was to tear him a new one. @LMS's was to find a kind and reasonable way to account for his dislike of the puzzle. The lesson, kids, is to grow up to be like her, not like me.

I was delighted with the puzzle myself. The only nit was, the constructor went a bit out of his way to slow down the experience of figuring out which way the palindromes went.

Anonymous 11:10 AM  

"EPT" was my biggest annoyance of the puzzle. I don't think anyone ever says that at all, whether jocularly or otherwise. However, I got it from the crosses. The iOS app didn't have the note, as others have pointed out. Overall, I didn't hate this at all, but I would have put it a little later in the week. A little over 9 minutes, compared to my Tuesday average of a little under 6.

Pete 11:12 AM  

@Z - Yes, I realized that. However, reading your post where you saw fit to remind us all that women should call their vaginas vaginas, I was reminded of an article I recently read, an excellent screed at that, about the exact subject you linked to. This woman, however, included the additional fact that most of the time the people aren't really talking about what they think they're talking about, and that maybe being too strident about calling your outside bits by the term for your inside bits wasn't valid. Maybe they're just talking about the outside appearance of the pubic region, for which Hooha is as good a term as any. A different woman's opinion for which I didn't provide adequate citation or depth.

jae 11:15 AM  

Very tough. Not a Tues. Very clever, but a bit sloggy. It probably would have been more fun if I had ignored the “Tuesdayness”* and just enjoyed the conceit, or what @JHC said. Liked it.

*Tuesdayness - The notion that a Tuesday puzzle has certain difficulty level that is manifested by a specific range of solving times.

bagelboy 11:25 AM  

I never saw the note, and dont care that similar puzzles exist. Slow for a Tuesday due to the theme, but not difficult. And so what if your Tuesday takes a little longer. The theme was new to me and I rather enjoyed it.

Brad Johnson 11:26 AM  

I thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle; I especially liked when the Across clues were matched (e.g. "Bits of film tape / Film holder", "Entertainer Marx / Entertainer Winfrey" "Ram's sch. / Trojan's sch."). Little surprise that Rex was bilious though. Am surprised this ran on a Tuesday.

Sgreennyc 11:30 AM  

An enjoyable puzzle. But some people are not capable of enjoying such things.
Poor Rex. Just as Trump hates Obama for being something he could never aspire to be, Rex hates Will Shortz and all his work. It is sad when you think about it.

jb129 11:32 AM  

I would have liked this on a different day by a different constructor.

Anoa Bob 11:33 AM  

When I opened this one, I thought the theme might be "Partial Eclipse", or something in that vein, what with all those black squares, 50 of them as @Roo pointed out. I wonder if that's a record high number.

This struck me as more of a word play puzzle, something closer to a massive dose of "Jumble™:That Scrambled Word Game" than to a crossword puzzle.

Chapps 11:36 AM  

Meh. Really, the only things that bothered me about this puzzle were a) definitely *not* a Tuesday, and b) the randomness of backwards/forwards (what was the reason for 'figure it out'?). I didn't know there was a note, so I just stumbled across the maguffin myself, but it did make it weirdly confusing for a few minutes, because I couldn't make some clues work. Until I looked at them backwards, not in the order that the clue indicated. Argh!!

fifirouge 11:38 AM  

Adding my voice to the "pro" column. I liked this puzzle. I also solve for the enjoyment, and think of time as secondary. I never read the notes. When the page loads my brain just zooms in on the puzzle so I never even SEE the notes (also with so many ads on NYT pages these days I think my brain sees a shaded box and goes "AD - SKIP THIS").

I got to 21A (Entertainer Marx/Entertainer Winfrey) before I realized that *all* of the across clues were double. Couldn't come up with HARPO so I didn't get the gimmick, but realized I should focus on downs until I figured out what was going on.

Got to 31A and filled in DEek. For some reason I couldn't remember it was DEKE, *and* saw "eek" and decided that was right, instead of EKE, so I went down the wrong road for a while, thinking the first answer contained the second one.

Not sure which answer was the first aha moment, but after I got it I had fun going back through and figuring out all of the other answers. And since I'd already placed a bunch of downs, I had none of the struggle of figuring out which answer was which direction.

I can't help but laugh at all of the Rex haters here. You know you don't have to read his blog, right?

John Child 11:41 AM  

Very clever; not much fun. I’m on board with the “run it on Thursday without a note” crowd.

Gene 11:53 AM  

The English professor gets 2D initially wrong???

Masked and Anonymous 11:57 AM  

This was certainly different, for a TuesPuz. I really like different.

The fact that this theme has sorta been done before only differently seems like a wobbly objection. The argument that it shoulda maybe been run as a ThursPuz without the note seems plausible. But … heck, with two Across clues per entry, this actually came out only slightly hardish for a Tuesday, in my book. Maybe it's becuz runtpuzs do this kinda stuff a lot, so I think about it all the time.

Split the difference: run this pup on a Wednesday, and print the note backwards. Or run it on a Monday with no note, but have the frontwards word's clue always appear first of the two. Lotsa ways to skin this critter.

staff weeject pick: USC/CSU. Know yer U-college mascots.

Standard 78 words, but 50 black squares. With lotsa cool grid art stairsteps/jaws and plus signs/stars. Different, again. Bring it.

Thanx for yer hard work on this one, Mr. E-S. Keep thinkin weird. It's fun just to see what U come up with.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Archie Bunker 11:58 AM  


Mo Pariser 12:03 PM  

Blog? Think bigger. Have you considered a 2020 campaign?

Anonymous 12:06 PM  

First time poster, long time reader. I loved this puzzle. Brilliant! I agree that it would've been slightly more fun ran on Thursday and without the note, but that is my only nit. As someone who has created a handful of puzzles I'm in awe of the effort that must've gone into making this one work. As soon as I read the note I thought, "No freaking way" and was impressed the whole way through. Kudos to the creator.

Also, these answers are not palindromes as many seem to think.

jberg 12:08 PM  

OK, everything's been said -- I'm with @Lewis, that this is a step beyond the Krozel puzzle, and with @pmdm that it is not "cheating" to read any notes. The notes are there so that you will read them! You can set a personal rule not to read them, just as you can set a personal rule to solve downs-only, but it is not "cheating" if someone else doesn't follow your personal rule.

And once you read the note, this was easy. Every across had two clues, and you only had to get one of them to get the answer. As to which direction it ran in, you just had to get a down or two.

I did run into trouble in the center, though, for a combinations of reasons:

a) I not only put in REask, but initially put it in at 28D rather than 24D. I caught that one pretty quickly, but those wrong letters were still sitting there to confuse me.

b) When I saw STEED, I changed it to REacT.

c) Most seriously, I read "slugger" as "singer," and any old time singer named Al has to be Jolson-- leading me to look for a rebus in there. I mean, the J couldn't possibly be right, so I knew it wasn't Jolson, but the thought blocked me from seeing any other possibilities. I finally got OCEAN, and that fixed everything in the sense that I did get ROSEN, but still thought he was a singer.

I should add that I'm here late because of an early morning opthamological appointment. My cataracts are big enough to make my vision a little fuzzy, but not yet big enough to justify surgery -- which may explain why I thought I was looking for a singer.

OK, I'm off to the forest primeval to listen for those murmuring pines and hemlocks.

Abalini 12:10 PM  

1. Rex always laments that constructors should have solver experience in their mind. He should take his own advice. It's his blog and therefore his opinion, but putting himself in the shoes of an average solver would have likely reduced his disdain
2. Plagiarism is a serious accusation. Don't throw that around. As an educator, I will give Rex the benefit of the doubt and assume it was a tongue in cheek comment. Or is that NAIVE?
3. A repeated (or in this case similar) theme many years apart is hardly a reason to complain. I would wager most solving today's puzzle did not solve the Krozel puzzle (hence new to them), and if they did, they did not remember it. Further, a repeated theme does not mean less enjoyment. I've seen the same movies many times and still garner enjoyment, despite knowing the ending. And what a shame for musical artists if people only listened to their work once, and never again.
4. Why would one claim that easy puzzles equate to quick solving puzzles? The gimmick added time, but the clues were certainly Tuesday easy. As many have pointed out, simply solving the downs first made the across clues easy to parse.

I thought this was a very enjoyable Tuesday puzzle, with a little added crunch and an impressive construction feat. Thumbs up.

jb129 12:17 PM  

Read the comments - for my 2nd one - I think the constructor should add another hyphen in his/her name for -CONCEIT

beam aims north 12:23 PM  

I didn't see the note. I liked this, even if I was frustrated at trying to figure out which way each of the across answers should go.

EPT is stupid though.

LorrieJJ 12:30 PM  

Totally agree Loren ... if OFL ever took his eye off the finish line and enjoyed the journey, he'd learn to love doing crosswords again.

Anonymous 12:32 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
LorrieJJ 12:36 PM  

And also ... I'm a Canadian and I can tell you it's Americans who have funny spellings ... dialled is how the rest of the English speaking world spells it.

tim 12:54 PM  

My only objection is the ROGEN/USC nattick in the exact center of the puzzle, which left me joylessly plugging in every letter of the alphabet til the jaunty little tune told me I'd hit on the correct one. Which is less like a puzzle than just feeding nickels into a slot. This is especially inexcusable when the crossed clues are from the same field of esoterica, so that if you don't care about (in this case) sports you're just screwed; it'd be just as bad construction (albeit not for me personally) if the crossed answers were FELLINI/ALI (as in "___: Fear Eats the Soul").

Peter P 1:05 PM  

I didn't see the note, so I loved this puzzle. Very very slow for a Tuesday (twice my average Tuesday time)--definitely agree it's more a Thursday time-wise, but once I grokked the theme, I got a big smile on my face. I really expected the commentary to be more positive.

Teedmn 1:07 PM  

This was fun - it took almost twice my usual Tuesday but I didn't mind.

Not knowing ROSEN or the schools meant the 28D-34A crossing was dicey but ROSEN seemed likely.

My biggest error, after REask before REPUT, was 56A. I had _E_AL and put in lEbAL, LABEL for the sticker and what did lE bAL have to do with shoes? ACADIAN fixed that mess. Everything I know about ACADIANs comes from the Longfellow poem, Evangeline, as @Leslie 7:49 mentions.

Nice job, AES, in making us think on a Tuesday.

Masked and Anonymous 1:16 PM  

Ooooh Ooooh … Flat out got the puz-publishin solution for this rodeo! Run this here puppy on a **Friday**: With No Note and No Down Clues at all. Be sure and stand way back, when readin @RP's blog, then … so as not to be harmed by the outgoin volcanic blast. har

I'd think one of a speed solvers' objections to this as a TuesPuz is that its clues necessarily end up so long-winded. Takes extra time to read em. No objection from M&A, tho -- what's a few extra precious nanoseconds, among friends havin fun.

Lotsa fun-to-read comments today. Thanx, all U smart Comment Gallery folks. Wonder what Dr. Crossfrankenstein Alex E-S thinks of all this HOOHA? [I'd probably be eatin it up with an oversized soup spoon.] Congratz, AES dude. thUmbsUp.


Anonymous 1:17 PM  


Tim Sneath 1:22 PM  

Loved the puzzle, always love the grumpy Rex responses. As little as I agree with him, I've supported him through PayPal because I enjoy the entertainment and am impressed by his commitment each day to finding new ways to hate on the puzzles! I enjoyed this one greatly, and thought it was a pleasant change from the norm. This felt like a feat of construction that added to the solving experience. I'm sad I read the note in advance though... I would have enjoyed this even more if I had had to figure the device out myself.

davidm 1:25 PM  

I thought this puzzle was OK, but I’m seriously, um, puzzled, as to why it needed a note. Why not let the solver figure it out on his/her own? It would have been immediately evident that some trick was involved from seeing each across answer with a double clue.

But then, even without the note, once you get the first double clue, it becomes obvious that each across clue is going to be two different answers, one forward to back and the other back to forward. And that’s OK, I guess … fascinating how many words, spelled backwards, are new words with different meanings. There are undoubtedly a whole lot of them.

But I just wish it were … different. Without double clues. For example, clue 41 across only as “forever and a day” and it comes up SEGA, and then have a revealer somewhere that logically explains the reversal. I don’t know, MIRROR IMAGE?

Ethan Taliesin 1:29 PM  

Not perfect, but I enjoyed having something a bit different on a Tuesday.

Reminded me a bit of working a cryptic crossword, which make up for their occasional inelegance with their interestingness. I have no problem with recycling puzzle ideas though I agree the example Rex provided was better. Didn't hate it.

You know what I do thoroughly despise though? DJT and company.

Freddy Murcks 1:31 PM  

I agree that it was challenging for a Tuesday, but I found myself rather enjoying the challenge. As far as the NYT cannibalizing its own ideas, there are only so many good ideas in the world. Recycling is inevitable. The trick is to do it well.

pmdm 2:02 PM  

Too many people posted comments today that deserve recognition and a response so I think I'll say a few more things in general with aiming my comments at anyone particular (with one exception).

The sequence of puzzles becoming more difficult as the week progresses predates the Shortz era. Perhaps he recalibrated the level of difficulty but he didn't originate the sequence. He has made some changes since Maleska. Low word-count Saturdays for instance. Banishment of the word ladder.

Many who comment here are intelligent and author witty, instructive, and/or otherwise interesting comments. LMS, Lewis and Z (who may seem opiniated etc. but whose comments include very worthwhile observations) justify coming to this site even when the write-ups seem overly cranky (I believe Mr. Shortz's word). And it is appropriate to voice one's opinions about what others write as long as one writes (or at least tries to write) in a civil or polite manner. The problem is that Mr Sharp has lost any influence he might have once had because of what (and perhaps how) he expresses himself. Some come here praising Caesar. To do the opposite is to balance out the conversation, which could not be done by sending a private email. And as is sometimes pointed out, the delay in the posting of a comment (due to the unfortunate need for comment moderating) causes at times redundant observations.

It is correct that the gimmick does not involve palindromes. If you want to learn the correct terminology, go to XWordInfo.com where today's comments reveal the correct term.

And Z, I think my first comment suggests the clues were easy, as someone else who commented noted. If you didn't notice. You are correct about plagiarism, but your analogy concerning anagrams is a bit of a stretch in my mind. But I know what you mean, and understand why you don't like it. The note was required so that the difficulty of the puzzle was lowered for new solvers. Given the relative paucity of long entries, it would have been difficult to make the clues appropriately difficult for a Thursday puzzle. I suppose it would have been better to increase the clue level a bit, remove the note, and change the publication date to a Wednesday.

Wordsmith 2:10 PM  

Wonderful puzzle making use of a wide range of knowledge and ability to free up typical modes of deduction. Speed is not of the essence, but enjoyment is!

Phil 2:18 PM  

I didn’t read the note until here on the blog. Very glad i didn’t. Really an essential part of the puzzle to see the truck and then figure out the direction. RETAR had me wondering if I missed yet another latin plural alternative to OVA.

The 'S' plural in the trick clues was an aid.

Carola 2:57 PM  

Normally, I'm in the take-it-slow-and-savor group, but today I had to get to an appointment, so...I read the Note and thought, "On a Tuesday?! Okay, then, let's do as many of the Downs as quickly as possible and then mop up the Acrosses." Two things wrong with that: 1) I felt like a bad sport for treating the theme as an annoyance, and 2) my Down yield was too low to allow for swaths of mopping. Post-appointment, I had time to appreciate the construction and several pleasurable unanticipated "this works both ways" examples. Loved SOPHIST. Do-over: REask. No idea: ROSEN, VMA, EPT.

chasklu 3:36 PM  

Fine as a Tuesday puzzle. Tuesday is the farthest I usually get in the week and I was able to complete it except for the Natick at the center: ROSEN or RONEN. I had heard of USC and UNC but not their reverses, nor the slugger Al.

Anonymous 3:40 PM  

They actually are palindromes if you put the two words together: ERGO OGRE, for example.

Z 3:55 PM  

@Pete - I’m so used to anonymice and faux anonymice posting non sequiturs that the occasional good point gets the over-reaction. Apologies. I think I saw the same article you did. But in this case I was just being quick trying to find how common that particular usage is and how long it’s been around. I think the slang term is generally used pretty much indiscriminately for both outer and inner.

@anon12:06 makes an excellent point. For someone ramping up on the NYTX and it’s ilk this would be a fun change of pace. Me, I’ve done enough puzzles that my personal preferences have solidified to the point that I just don’t find much entertainment in any puzzle that plays with letters.

@pmdm - Moi? I would suggest that we are all opinionated. I think I just don’t bother to soften my opinions much, which comes across as strident lots of times. But, Guilty, I’m most definitely opinionated.
@pmdm “and Z” - I’m not sure I’m following your first sentence. As I solved I just went for the downs tried to get a couple of letters, and intuited what words could go both directions. Lots of times I didn’t even need either across clue, although I’d glance to see if my guesses fit a clue. If I’m understanding the “downs only” solvers, this is not dissimilar to how they solve.
As for anagrams, an anagram is just a word that shares the letters of another word. So a semordnilap is just a special example of an anagram, where the rearranging is a reversal.
As for the Note, I really do think that even novice solvers could have sussed out this conceit. Their biggest roadblock would not have been the conceit itself, but learning that conceits can happen. I agree, take away the note and make it a Wednesday.

@Several people- I don’t think Rex meant “plagiarism” in the strictest sense, but I’m with everyone who said or implied that it is a term that should only be used in the strictest sense. It is too serious of an accusation to use jokingly or hyperbolically.

chefwen 4:00 PM  

You can throw me into the loved it camp.

Read the note, wish I hadn’t.

BettyeA 4:49 PM  

Had fun with this puzzle. And that’s what I’m looking for... Lighten up, Rex.

Okoume 5:29 PM  

Agree with Pickle 9:41! I'm always bummed when LMS doesn't make an appearance here.

Eileen C Gallagher 5:43 PM  

A surprise treat for Tuesday. "Forget it," I said when I read the note. Then, just for fun,
worked most of the downs.After that, not hard to see the acrosses. Except for USC. Never care about time, just enjoy the moments. Even fun to get an AHA moment later on. Chill out all you pros!

BobL 6:12 PM  

@DavidZ - super post

Nancy 6:16 PM  

I can't remember who they were, but I think that two people today referred to the fastest solvers as "the pros" -- reducing everyone else to amateurs. (Or perhaps chopped liver.) I refuse to accept that definition -- though it may put me way out in left field.

Here's what I believe: If you can solve 98% of puzzles -- including the toughest, trickiest, thorniest, and most fiendish -- without looking anything up, ever, you're a pro in my book. I don't care if it takes you 3 minutes or 3 hours. I don't even care if you put the puzzle down overnight and come back to it the next day. As long as you don't cheat.

Whom do I blame for confusing speed with solving ability? The first people to invent a crossword puzzle tournament, that's who. Well, look, they had to do it. How else, in a room full of top solvers who pretty much can't be stumped, do you come up with a winner? You might have 300 winners. So then you pick the fastest. And soon, crossword puzzle-solving becomes about speed. But it's not about speed. There are many, many people right here on this blog who I believe to be "pros" in every sense of the word. They seldom, if ever, are stumped by even the hardest puzzle. Some are fast and brilliant (like my friend @Teedmn). Some are slow and leisurely and brilliant (like my friend @mathgent). And they are both terrific solvers. So when valuing speed in an endeavor, maybe we should stick to running, swimming and cycling. Stuff like that.

JC66 6:27 PM  


Well said!

Amy 6:41 PM  

Add me to the side of those who loved this! Good crunchy fun but not too hard.

CDilly52 6:52 PM  

I heartily agree that today’s blog seems to have revealed that OFL measures a puzzle’s excellence based on how quickly it can be completed rather than the degree of enjoyment of the daily journey.

I do not typically read the “notes” before starting because all too often, they diminish my enjoyment rather than augmenting it. So for me, today provided head-scratching discombobulation for about 5 minutes while I tried to figure out what the paired across clues had to do with one another. When nothing was making sense, I started on the downs. Knew 2 and 3D which gave me the AT of 1A, and bingo, the lights went on! I had originally thought TAB for the opener but my brain wanted me to think “organization” or “group” rather than BAT.

I thoroughly enjoyed the solve and marvel at the constructor’s ability to find so many semordnillap pairs! Please don’t burst my admiration bubble and tell me that crossword constructing software allows one to search for a “conceit du jour” because I get such a kick out of admiring the cleverness of folks who can create such entertaining offerings. After finishing and then reading it, I think the note today is most likely what allowed it to be a Tuesday puzzle. Perhaps the editor required it?

JT 6:54 PM  
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Ana 7:06 PM  

Agree with Loren. Great one to do off the clock.

Space Is Deep 7:16 PM  

Loved this one, but definitely not a Tuesday puzzle.

Anonymous 7:41 PM  

As usual, different people have their easy and hard words. I knew ATIDE (There is a Tide is an Agatha Christie book, by the way), KEGEL, ACADIAN, and EPT very quickly. Didn't get OCEAN till the very end (silly me). I got the middle letter of USC because I figured it had to be an S to denote some state university.

Kathy Houser 7:52 PM  

Am I the only one who hadn't heard of "deets?"

mmorgan 8:13 PM  

@eDoug Garr — that was exactly what I liked about it.

Patricia Hughes 8:30 PM  

Great fun - but definitely a Thursday and the note on the across clues spoiled the surprise.

scottie 8:49 PM  

Loved it, even on a Tuesday.

Anonymous 9:12 PM  

I rarely comment, but I feel compelled to today.

This was a good puzzle. Rex appears to judge it negatively because he was not able to "speed solve" it. While this certainly took longer than the average puzzle, that did not increase the difficulty. The difficulty was in fact lessened because every Across answer effectively had two clues. You should pretty much never have an incorrect Across answer (unless you pick the wrong direction) because it's inverse confirms itself. Normally in a puzzle you can only confirm an answer by getting all of the answers it crosses with; but today, you can also confirm an answer simply by looking at the second clue. With every square in the puzzle clued three times, you are set up for eventual success.

The "plagiarism" accusation is nonsense, especially coming from somebody who works in literature. This is not plagiarism. It's a similar idea to the puzzle Rex linked to, but even then it's not the same. The puzzle Rex linked to effectively only required the constructor to construct half of a puzzle, and then mirror it. This puzzle needed Alex to construct a full puzzle. The fact that you can then inverse this puzzle and still have a fully functional puzzle (that is completely different, save for the Downs!) is downright impressive. Ideas can and will be recycled, often unintentionally.

I think the USC/CSU/ROSEN crossing is fair. Even if you haven't heard of any of them, "S" is the most logical choice because "State" schools are going to have an "S" in the middle (MSU, WSU, OSU, etc.). My personal bedbug was the Northeast corner (due to CIO and MES), but the fact that I had two clues for each Across answer finally let me break through.

Anonymous 9:29 PM  

I would hate this a lot if I'd seen the note, but not having seen it, it was more fun - if definitely not Tuesday.

Adam 9:56 PM  

Meh. Even some of the cluing was harder than it needed to be. Not my favorite for sure.

arockinson 11:23 PM  

I enjoyed the rotational symmetry puzzle that you discussed. I am starting to get into crossword puzzles and am building a website called www.crosswordsdictionary.com so I am a bit of a rookie. I need to keep solving puzzles!

Whatsername 12:13 AM  

@Nancy - I was crunched for time today but came here late to read the blog while waiting for tomorrow's puzzle to print. I just wanted to say I'm in total agreement with your incredibly insightful comments. I happen to be a slow, leisurely and decidedly non-brilliant solver for whom applying a self-imposed pressure of time would ruin the entire experience. Heck, I don't even feel guilty about using reference sources as long as it's a proper name or foreign phrase, etc., something I will never figure out otherwise. Anyway, you always post interesting thoughts but you did a really nice job of summarizing the whole timed/not timed debate. Thanks.

Clark 1:08 AM  

More often than not the Notes take the fun out of solving for me. Long ago I adopted the practice of ignoring the note unless I get really stuck. I enjoyed the puzzle.

JMS 1:15 AM  

Got the gimmick pretty quickly. That didn’t make it any better.

giblet 1:54 AM  

Absolutely agree about the annoyingly sports center. I was completely hopeless on that one.

kitshef 7:45 AM  

@Nancy - my experience is that cycling is very similar to crossword solving. Cycling for speed may give satisfaction for some, but definitely not for me. For me slowing down, taking in the scents, sights and sounds, going the scenic route - those are what make cycling enjoyable. Same with hiking. And I don't run, but I imagine I'd feel the same about that.

Anonymous 9:33 AM  

So I guess what it comes down to is whether you're a competitive solver or a contemplative solver. I solve with pencil on an actual newspaper, and I usually don't even do the whole puzzle at once--too busy. I'm in it for the fun of solving, the enjoyment of the cleverness, and just the pleasure of words.

So it's no surprise that I loved this puzzle. I did.

Lynx 1:59 PM  

@David Z: so appreciate your comment about Rex haters. I do not understand why some people complain and complain and complain about him yet keep coming back.

An idea for the haters: Go read Jeff Chen or some other NYT crossword blogger or even better, start your own blog. Write it with your distinct (and presumably less demanding) point of view. Post every day. For years and years. Moderate the comments -- all the comments. Read lots of repetitive personal insults. Rarely take a day off, and when you do, arrange a substitute. Have at it. The NYT crossword solver world is breathlessly waiting for you.

Heather 6:35 PM  

A major rule of advertising/web design is "don't make them think". Here, that would mean "don't confuse people unnecessarily". I actually enjoyed this puzzle, but I felt uncertain the whole time for two reasons. First: because I couldn't believe it was a Tuesday puzzle. "Am I just really stupid on this one?" is not a fun thing to wonder the whole time you solve the puzzle.

The second reason I doubted is because some of the across clues had the forwards answer first and some had it second. This didn't seem like something the NYT puzzle would do. So that caused consternation as well.

This may be why many people didn't love this puzzle. And I'm beginning to think the NYT puzzle editor is so delighted by clever construction that he is prioritizing that over solver enjoyment. As a solver, that would not be my preference, of course.

I admire clever construction for about 20 seconds, but I spend between 4 minutes and an hour solving, so the feel of the solving experience is more important to me.

Hoboken Mike 9:18 PM  


Mel Curry 9:19 PM  

Totally agree. This was fun. So what if you’ve seen it before. You are really quite the curmudgeon, Rex, and that is NOT fun

Anonymous 9:42 PM  

I enjoyed this on thoroughly! Who new that “name tag” backwards was “gate man”?

spacecraft 11:52 AM  

There are three palindromes in the grid--and they're downs! See RADAR, PEP, SSS (ugh). I'll raise my hand for @muse's idea: run it on Thursday sans note (ooh, there's another one: Brit school/message!). This is a construction tour de force, but as usual with T-de-F's, it forces some unfortunate fill.

I had DIAL plus three (!) squares. I could not imagine how I was going to occupy all three. Almost took my pen and inked in an extra black square at the bottom. That area was where I finished, and only then did the double-L come to light. "Can you do that?" I wondered, and looked it up. Yes, by golly, you can. DIAL, DIALED, DIALING or DIALLED, DIALLING. Amazing. Who knew? I spent three years in England, and never saw this.

What you CAN'T do is use REPUT. That is awful--so awful it's Not Even A Word. I'd like to PUT it back in its hiding place, never to see the light of day again. VMA must be "Video Music Award," recognizable only to those who watched it--both of them.

Occupying the central down is today's DOD: our very own freshman Senator Jacky ROSEN. You go, girl! Braving ATIDE of two-way answers is new for a Tuesday; building it is surely ANART. Kudos for the feat, but it works better a la @muse. That's how it should've been presented--and it might then have EKED (shudder!) out a birdie. Par.

Anonymous 1:39 PM  

From Syndication Land:

I usually read the paper and then solve the puzzle. Today when I saw the note on the puzzle I was so intrigued that I had to solve it right away. Loved the idea of a puzzle in each across clue! Does it go forward or backward? This was fun for me! It must have been really hard to construct...

Anonymous 2:48 PM  

I would not be reading this blog if not for LMS. If she goes I go. I enjoy crossword puzzles. She enjoys crossword puzzles.

leftcoastTAM 3:43 PM  

Got to give AE-S his due. This is a clever and solid puzzle, tough for a Tuesday. The note/revealer says just about all that needs to be said about it.

It's also tedious, requiring lots of cross-referencing, which can slow things down quite a bit. Not my favorite feature in puzzle-making, but fair enough. Actually liked the backward-forward gimmick, and liked seeing how straightforward most of them turned out to be.

(Regarding 27A, if I were to reseal cracks in my driveway, I wouldn't want to make a gooey mess of it by RETARing, and neither, I expect, would fellow-syndie tar-RATER, @rondo.)

Burma Shave 4:42 PM  


"STOP, MAC. What's the SCAM?
I'm REVILED that you DELIVER such DATA,
your MAPS ARE nothing but SPAM."


rainforest 5:55 PM  

I'm in the "loved it; it was fun" camp where they think that TAR is paving material, eh, @rondo? See, I've learned.

Once I twigged onto the theme (no note in my paper) this became almost a regular puzzle simply by doing as many downs as I could. As everyone has said, the construction couldn't have been easy, and I for one appreciate it. For me the solving experience was a good one.

The problem with this, as with many "stunt" puzzles is that you can only do it once.

BTW, once I saw it displayed, I remembered the Joe Krozel puzzle - not all of it obviously, but the way it was put together. Maybe I don't need Prevagen.

Anonymous 6:25 PM  

Note? What note? Not in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, my paper of choice. Didn’t check the fishwrapper from the other side of the Mississip (Mpls. Star-Trib.). So I went back and forth on this one.

Ooooh, you all just knew that RETAR should be REVILED. Now if the constructors and editors catch on.

But the editors were setting us up in previous days with TAMIL and yeah baby TESSA Virtue.

This took some extra emit with the DUAL words (and no eton). Not exactly a SNAP.

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

Difficult? Get the down answers, fill in the across answers. Tuesday easy. Without the note maybe a Thursday.

Appreciated the construction.

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