Start shooting / WED 8-21-19 / Tuscan home of St Catherine / Phrase used by many easy-listening radio stations / Protest singer Phil

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Constructor: Samuel A. Donaldson

Relative difficulty: Medium (4:10) (felt much harder)


THEME: E-stuff — Theme clues are that I guess are actual things starting with an E-prefix (E-waste, really??), and then answers are just an example of the post-E part of the clue in which all the vowels are "E"s:

Theme answers:
  • "THE SECRET" (18A: E-book?) (because "The Secret" is a book title in which all the vowels are "E"s...)
  • DELETED SCENE (20A: E-waste?)
  • TERM SHEET (27A: E-filing?)
  • REFERENCE LETTER (37A: E-mail?)
  • ENTER HERE (45A: E-sign?)
  • SEVENTEEN (58A: E-mag?)
Word of the Day: TERM SHEET (27A) —
term sheet is a bullet-point document outlining the material terms and conditions of a business agreement. After a term sheet has been "executed", it guides legal counsel in the preparation of a proposed "final agreement". It then guides, but is not necessarily binding, as the signatories negotiate, usually with legal counsel, the final terms of their agreement. (wikipedia)
• • •

Wow, this was terrible. I haven't felt so completely put off by every facet of a puzzle like this in a good long while. I mean, everywhere I turned, the fill was atrocious; there was no escape. And the theme, which, in retrospect, might've been at least reasonably well executed, ended up being way too dense, resulting in two bad themers that probably could've been done away with *entirely*, which would've resulted (probably?) in much, much, much cleaner fill. So we get too much of a bad thing, which ends up wrecking everything else. This should've been sent back for serious revisions if the theme ... tickled ... the editor so much. What is E-waste? Whatever it is, it is not remotely as much of an in-the-language thing as all the other E-terms. Chuck that clue and answer in the sea. And TERM SHEET, ugh. There's a term only a lawyer could love. Wife and I had never heard of it. I guess it gets ... filed? And "THE SECRET" ... is your E-book? I barely remember that book. What ... was it? Feels Y2K / magical thinking-ish. Am I in the ballpark? Hang on ... Well, a bit later than Y2K, but otherwise, yeah, garbage:
The Secret is a best-selling 2006 self-help book by Rhonda Byrne, based on the earlier film of the same name. It is based on the belief of the law of attraction, which claims that thoughts can change a person's life directly. The book has sold 30 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 50 languages. // Critics have claimed that books such as this promote political complacency and a failure to engage with reality,  and that "it isn’t new, and it isn’t a secret". Scientific claims made in the book have been rejected by a range of critics, pointing out that the book has no scientific foundation. (wikipedia)
Speaking of garbage: the fill. From the ridiculous gunk of ESTD EOS SCH to the alphabet soup of FTC ATF to the never-welcome OOX (a noxious answer whose noxiousness is compounded by its faux-cutesy "aint-I-a-stinker?" cluing, ugh) (35A: It's for naught in noughts-and-crosses) (n.b.: "noughts-and-crosses" is British for "tic tac toe"), to, well, everything. Is it INURES or ENURES, who cares, no one, but you still gotta guess! Sorry, you guessed wrong (41A: Accustoms). Plural DNAS. AS NEAR?? EERO ENRY and the ERN ERA! Then there was SHE-CAT, which ... stop. It's just a cat. OPEN FIRE is super-grim in this ERA of mass shootings.


Lastly, I was racking my brain for an answer that made sense for [City south of Yosemite] ... only to find it was the City I Grew Up In. No one, but no one, would describe FRESNO that way. It is certainly geographically true (lots of cities are south of Yosemite), but it is hours away, in (and I can't stress this enough) an entirely different eco-system, i.e. a valley that is a desert that ... look you're gonna have to trust me here, if I wanted to orient you to FRESNO, I might use Bakersfield or Sacramento or maybe the Sierra Nevadas generally, but Yosemite?? LOL, no. My god I just saw OOX again, so I am nauseated and have to stop. To sum up: theme might've worked OK at four answers; at six, it's a disaster—theme stretched too thin, and grid absolutely rekt. Ugh, SCH. Why? Bye.




Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

160 comments:

Anonymous 12:05 AM  

Criminally bad puzzle.

Joaquin 12:07 AM  

While it may be (or may have once been) technically correct to use HOBNOB to mean “pal around (with)”, nobody uses it in that way now. Today’s “hobnobbers” are hobnobbing with their perceived superiors, their boss, or anyone higher on the social hierarchy. They may be having drinks but they don’t go bowling together, vacation together, or “pal around” in any other way.

And I dropped in Fresno based on only the “R”; maybe no one in Fresno would describe it that way but as a native Californian it worked just fine for me.

Unknown 12:07 AM  

Thank you, Rex

Phaedrus 12:26 AM  

Every time Rex includes tweets in his post, I wonder what the appeal of twitter is.

It sure seems like it’s just another outlet for a bunch of whiners and complainers.

Why does “anna” think anyone cares what she said after reading 2 crossword clues?

Anonymous 12:32 AM  

This puzzle is so bad. One has to blame the editor for publishing it.

David G. 12:41 AM  

I agree with most of what Rex said, except for E-WASTE. Where I live, there are quarterly E-WASTE pickups, where people can bring their dead electronics, batteries, fluorescent bulbs, etc., to be recycled in a safe and environmentally responsible manner. It’s a big deal, and thousands of people come to get rid of stuff that would otherwise be tossed in the trash. So, hooray for E-WASTE, if it makes people aware of the need for proper recycling.

Mike in Mountain View 12:49 AM  

Disagree strongly with the criticism of TERMSHEET, which is, indeed, very much a thing. A term sheet is exactly what it sounds like, a sheet setting forth the terms of a deal. You don't have to be a lawyer to know about term sheets. Do a Google search on "Term Sheet" and you get more than 1.5 million hits. It's very "in the language," for anybody who has ever done a business transaction, or even read about one.

Mike in Mountain View 12:54 AM  

Also, the rant about Fresno might strike some readers as amusing if they know that the airport in Fresno is "Fresno Yosemite International Airport." Now, I will admit that the airport's name might be a bit of a marketing stretch, but still, it does lend at least some credibility to the clue in today's puzzle.

jae 1:14 AM  

Tough. Caught the theme late, but it helped me fill in THE SECRET and DELETED SCENE. I’m inclined to agree with Rex on this one, too many problems.

Unaffected 1:18 AM  

I’m a crossword neophyte and I usually react to Rex’s critiques with some level of bemusement. But today I felt so validated by his opinion. Solving this puzzle was an awful, unpleasant experience.

Anonymous 1:35 AM  

I'm a biologist and I can attest that DNAs is not a thing. GENES are made up of, among other compounds, DNA. The rest I will leave to those more erudite than I.

Lkinney 1:54 AM  

Theme answers were impossible even after I picked up the e thing. But still needed the crap fill to finish. Puzzle needed editing for sure.

Harryp 1:55 AM  

This wasn't as bad as the comments make it seem. I liked it fine. as for 55down, that has been seen well before this puzzle.

Alex M 2:41 AM  

Sure you'll get many comments to this effect Rex but e-waste is electronic waste, i.e. what's left of iPhones and AirPods after their planned obsolescence kicks in. Since they're full of mixed materials and toxic metals it's a real problem and one that's only getting worse. Agree with the rest of the crique though, yuck.

Anonymous 2:49 AM  

What does tuezzed mean?

JOHN X 2:51 AM  

As an Angeleno I absolutely think of Fresno as the gateway to Yosemite, that is if I think of Fresno at all. I remember there was a very funny mini-series a long time ago called Fresno starring Carol Burnett. It was a parody of prime-time soaps such as Dynasty and Falcon's Crest.

I liked this puzzle fine. It was presented to me and I solved it. Not once did I allow my feelings to get hurt, for that is not the JOHN X way.

chefwen 2:57 AM  

I am in full agreement with Rex on this one. No fun at all. My first long entry was 52A and I thought I was going to nail this one. I’ve always loved the MERCEDES E series cars, maybe someday sigh... The rest, not so easy. Had a regular mess going on in the NE. Never heard of THE SECRET. DELETED SCENE, huh? TERM SHEET, huh? Ooh Yay, I got ENTER HERE.

Please make Thursday’s puzzle fun.

Anonymous 2:58 AM  

Definitely tougher than your average Wednesday, and it was not in my wheelhouse. I ended up with a Friday time. Overall, not a fun solve. Felt more like a chore than a game.

Jyqm 3:15 AM  

The hashtag-woke crowd can miss me with their self-conscious pearl clutching over OPENFIRE, but otherwise, I’m in full agreement: this puzzle suuuuuuuucccckkkkssss. Total non-theme married with fill so consistently, ridiculously bad, it wouldn’t even be entertaining as parody. As Rex is fond of saying, a handful of these as necessary glue would be perfectly acceptable, but this was just one after the other of “Seriously?!”

jae 3:44 AM  

I just caught up with yesterday’s late comments.... @Speedweeder, Nancy, the redanman, Joe D. & ... golf dreams (which I’ve had for 6 decades or so) are definitely in the same ball park as the tennis dreams you’ve shared. John Updike actually published a book of short stories titled “Golf Dreams”.

Shza 4:16 AM  

Agree that this puzzle was terrible and no fun. But TERMSHEET and E-WASTE are not at all arcane. “CHALK talk”/KNOTTS, however - wtf?

Joe Dipinto 5:28 AM  

On the morning of Wednesday August 21st there was trouble brewing in NYT Crosswordland.

Mother Teresa was back, and she was hell-bent on singing the song she and Janis Joplin were supposed to do at Woodstock. She had been practicing it for well over two hours.

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz?
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends


Eventually she noticed that this guy was watching her. He seemed very familiar. "Aren't you in that English group?" she asked eagerly.

"Yeah, I'm one of them," he said noncommittally.

"Can you get me on the Ed Sullivan show?" she pestered. "I brought my oox."

"Axe."

"Më falni?"

"You brought your axe," said the one who was one of them. "You said 'oox'."

"Oh. I have my Ochs with me?" said M. Teresa uncertainly.

"Not OCHS. Your AXE. What are you, from Albania or something?" The one who was one of them was getting annoyed. "I tell you what: this puzzle's a bit of a drag, wouldn't you say? How about we go somewhere else, and you can sing me that fetching little tune you were rehearsing."

M. Teresa was hesitant. "Do you know Paula McCartney?"

"Paul. Yeah I've heard of him."

"Can you emcee me to him?"

"I don't understand you at all, chickie."

M. Teresa pulled a crumpled newspaper page out of her habit. "Here: 'Made some introductions' means 'emceed'. So you can emcee me to him? He's got a nice rear end."

"Oh you fancy him do you? Well." The one who was one of them was amused by this revelation. "I won't tell anyone. It'll be our secret."

"Shecat."

"No, SECRET."

"Seee-cret", said M. Teresa, looking pleased with herself.

The one who was one of them lit an e-cigarette. He was pleased too. "By George, she's got it," he said to himself, just the way 'enry 'iggins would've done.

three of clubs 5:53 AM  

Oh c'mon. It's almost 2020. Why aren't we consistently saying person with (former) justice involvement yet in this most liberal of papers?

Solverinserbia 5:56 AM  

Did not finish. Natick of EOS and OCHS got me. I'm sure the former especially shows up in a lot of puzzles so at least I'll remember it.

I thought the theme was fine. I didn't get it, and I looked like I'd be nowhere near solving, and then I did and it made the puzzle nearly solvable.

BTW e-waste is a huge industry. Companies come and pick up old computers, printers, etc from other large companies, apartment buildings, etc. The salvage what's useful for resale and toss the rest.

File as fog 6:01 AM  

I knew TERM SHEET but I strongly disagree with the implication that 1.5M hits means it’s universally known. RHINO SEX gets 12M hits but there are only 20,000 practicing zoologists in the world. Draw your own conclusions

Pam 6:11 AM  

@Joe Dipinto - Absolutely brilliant! Gave this puzzle a reason to be! Thanks!

Big Jim Slade 6:11 AM  

@Joe Dipinto 5:28 AM

Have you ever been in a restaurant or a store and there's some background music playing, and there's this one dickhead who whistles along, unconsciously, as if he's in his own shower?

Lewis 6:34 AM  

Tough for me, with a higher-than-average number of answers out of my wheelhouse, plus the feeling that there had to be something more to the theme than there turned out to be. In retrospect, I think the theme is pretty clever, with the "e-" aspect, but while i was solving, just having theme answers with E as the only vowel felt thin (and there are ten non-theme answers in the puzzle with E as the only vowel). So anyway, it was tough for me, which meant I had to shift into think-hard mode to finally complete the puzzle. That is, I had to lift with heavier weights than usual for a Wednesday, and that part I loved. Give me heavy weights that are tough to lift (but not out of my ability) any puzzle of the week! And I thank you for that, Samuel.

I was sure [Southwest terminal?] was going to be TEES, and that snagged me for a bit. Not surprisingly, a mini-theme of double E's (6), and I love the words BUSTLE and ABYSS.

amyyanni 6:36 AM  

Huh. Didn't hate it. Constructor wrote he had clued KNOTTS as Fife Player, which is droll. Yes, @Joe, sweet scene. Glad you didn't delete it.

Hal Medrano 6:37 AM  

I can live with the theme, but the fill....ugh, for all the reasons Rex said (ENRY, DNAS, ESTD, OOX, SHECAT...). Painfully bad stuff.

Anonymous 6:44 AM  

Who says Chalk Talk? I dropped SMALL in at 1A and realized that wasn't working. Even pulling KNOTTS from somewhere deep in the memory bank didn't help me infer CHALK. Was more familiar with the rabbit being at Alice's tea party..didn't know about the HARE. RANIN, ERATO, LITEFM....have never heard anybody say LITEFM...maybe drop an abbrev. in there to let me know I shouldn't be trying to parse real words?

The NW corner killed me. Had REFILL instead of REFUEL, and ENURES wasn't helping me. Thought SILNA might have been an Italian town..

This was a horrible solving experience and I just kept waiting for it to be over...inexcusable junk fill.

Hungry Mother 6:47 AM  

The theme made this quick solve slower for me, paradoxically. Nice to see navels back in vogue.

Anonymous 7:00 AM  

The problem with TERM SHEET as an answer isn’t that it’s obscure, it’s that it has zero connection to the clue: E-filing. Term sheets aren’t filed. Tax returns maybe. Term sheets not at all.

Hungry Mother 7:06 AM  

I don’t even care about what I write on Twitter, so please stop it.

kitshef 7:17 AM  

Loved the clue for REAR ENDS.

Really surprised at Rex’s reaction to e-Waste, which is a word I hear much more frequently than, say, ZEES or SAG or ENURES. It’s IN USE, is what I’m saying.

35A: OOX. I get it. Sometimes you need to put OOX in your grid, and you can’t find a way around it. But when that happens, clue it simply and move on. We’ll forget OOX a lot faster if you don’t draw attention to it with your wordy clue. As it is, you’re saying “HEY, LOOK, I PUT OOX IN MY PUZZLE!!”

Vati 7:26 AM  

A term sheet might be a fine term, but one would rarely be "filed." In fact, normally they are kept confidential. I can't imagine with whom one would file a term sheet.

Also, I concur with Phaedrus on Twitter. Even doers of the Times puzzle apparently cannot write a sentence without using "fuck" there.

Suzie Q 7:47 AM  

I finished the puzzle but never understood the theme. No fun at all. Struggles can be fun but not today. If @ Lewis has to fish deeply for something nice to say you know there is a problem. Comments saved the day! @ Joe Dipinto dazzled me with his creative story and @ three of clubs really cracked me up, former justice involvement indeed!

MarineO6 7:53 AM  

Really thought the e thing was lame, didn’t even understand what the point was until I read Rex’s explanation that I guess all the vowels in the answers were e. Whatevs. Easy Wednesday. Too easy.
Much more enjoyable was reading Rex’s typical response to anything he can hang his hat on to show how woke he is. He’s ‘triggered’ by ‘open fire’?
Wow. That soy is definitely having an effect on my favorite beta male.

Klazzic 8:01 AM  

What a piece of crap puzzle.

Anonymous 8:05 AM  

The stupidest puzzle theme in recent memory.

emmet 8:18 AM  

Most seem to think e waste is electronics. Here I thought it had to do with the E network since it deletes scenes.

pabloinnh 8:24 AM  

Is this Stunt Puzzle Week or something? First we get the RT thing, and today we get the E thing. Maybe we could combine them and get a puzzle based on TREES.

So today I learned that there was/is a book called THESECRET and what a TERMSHEET is. Otherwise not much here, except for inspiring @JoeD's flight of fancy, which was way more fun than the puzzle. I'll give today's thank you to him.

kitshef 8:25 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
mmorgan 8:28 AM  

I did not enjoy this, and that’s a rarity for me — I tend to like most puzzles. Since I’m always so terribly wrong at predicting Rex’s reaction, I half expected him to like this, but I was relieved when he opened with, “Wow, this was terrible.” I was about half done when I realized how little I was enjoying this. I did get a momentarily pleasant flash of discovery when I realized what was going on — oh, I see, it’s not about computers, all the answers have no other vowel but E — but that didn’t last long. I agree with Rex on the ultra high level of gunky fill, and I usually never notice, much less mind, gunky fill.

MerriBerri 8:31 AM  

I super hated it. Especially because I got bamboozled by freaking 1A. I had CH--- and assumed it would be CHEAP TALK...you know, because that's a thing. What the actual fuck is Chalk Talk?? According to Google it's "a monologue...while the person draws on the board with chalk." Really? I mean, I'm pushing 30 so my younger years were spent with actual blackboards and chalk in school and I've never heard that shit in my life. -_-

mmorgan 8:34 AM  

@Joe Dipinto: Bravo.

WA 8:38 AM  

Reelly stupid

H. Gunn 8:47 AM  

There were parts of this puzzle that I really hated.

But, then, there were other parts of the puzzle that I really hated.

Lewis 8:49 AM  

@joe -- Wow and bravo!

Nancy 8:54 AM  

I don't know if the constructor is playing with a full deck or not, but he certainly isn't playing with MY deck. What on earth do the theme clues mean? I DIDN'T UNDERSTAND ONE SINGLE THEME ANSWER IN THE PUZZLE.

Weird and arbitrary. As I struggled to fill in the E-words and phrases, I found myself screaming at the puzzle: Why this answer? Why that answer? WHY, WHY, WHY?

Finished it...somehow. But thought it was awful. Scratch that -- I thought it was ridiculous.

Anonymous 8:54 AM  

Excellent post today, Rex, and spot on. Thanks!

Anonymous 8:59 AM  

This really was no fun at all, lots of bad or obscure fill. Let's hope for better tomorrow!

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

Ugh! Ugh! Ugh!

davidm 9:00 AM  

Ugh! ENURES is a legal term, and does NOT mean “accustoms.” The word should be INURES. I believe at least one dictionary maintains that ENURES is a valid variant of INURES, but almost no one else does. SHECAT? As opposed to what, a HECAT? Yeah, Fresno is south of Yosemite. … So is Mexico City. So is Santiago, Chile. So what? Don’t think DNAS is a valid plural. OPEN FIRE? Really? How about MASS SHOOTING next time, and be sure to cross it with NRA. Ugh!

Unknown 9:02 AM  

That was so much more fun than the actual puzzle 🙂

Nancy 9:05 AM  

Thank you, @Lewis!!!! Now at least I get what the theme is. E is the only vowel in the theme answers. I would have gone to my grave not knowing THE SECRET of the truly peculiar theme answers. And now I know!!!! You have done me a real service!

But I still think this is a truly awful puzzle.

Sir Hillary 9:08 AM  

Blech. The themers? MERE rejects. The rest? Here we get endless dreck.

THESECRET: Self-help bestseller? Eek!

GILL I. 9:10 AM  

You know how you're doing a puzzle and it is so interesting that even though you don't understand the theme, you like the puzzle so much you do everything you can to figure it out? WELL THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN. Egads and all that. I still don't get it. Oh, I understand all E's and nothing else but really? What,pray tell, does E-waste have to do with DELETED SCENE. And THE SECRET? Why?
I want to be amused not abused. You know I go around looking for a smile or two and today I can't find any. I actually had CHICK talk. But of course the NYT favorite arse gave me ANAL which gave me CHALK. Then...look at all the fun words: REAR ENDS EXCON OPEN FIRE SAG FLEECE and don't even get me started with ENRY.
COO this was awful.
Does this really tickle Will's fancy? I wonder what he's like having a drink with.
Best part of today was reading @Joe Dip. He outdid himself. Encore.

QuasiMojo 9:10 AM  

In a word: EWE!

-- Morning, @Joe, thanks for the laughs.

SouthsideJohnny 9:16 AM  

Today’s effort is an excellent example of the down side of requiring a theme 5 days a week. You are just going to have some colossal failures, and this is certainly a major dud. It buckles under its own weight and was just not a fun solving experience. I don’t believe that even one person here commented to the effect that they “really, really enjoyed it” - more of an essence of gracious forgiveness, lol. Oh, well - let’s hope for better tomorrow. And btw, note that while Rex’s critique is spot-on today, he would be much more credible if he didn’t invent things to get hysterical about on pretty much a daily basis.

RooMonster 9:22 AM  

Hey All !
The ole brain refused to grok the theme. Didn't notice the all E vowel thing, even with having all the themers. Comprehend much? Had DELETED SCENE as DELETED SCaNs, and took the DNF. Not much fun when you can't get the theme even when finished.

Was wondering how the E- clues worked with the answers. Seemed arbitrary at the time. Now I see they are all E voweled, and somewhat relatable. Not terrible, but not the best we've ever scene.

@Joe D had a cool story with the puz answers. You should publish a short-story book about NYTXW answers.

Is OOX the shortened/nickname of Rex's God of Bad Fill OOXTEPLERNON? Har.

LAG BAG SAG. Just an observation.

GENES and DNAS
RooMonster
DarrinV

Speedweeder 9:33 AM  

"Chalk talks" were known to occur in the Fortune 500 corporation I worked for, albeit with whiteboards and erasable marker. No chalk involved.

Donovan 9:35 AM  

She was quoted here, so obviously someone does.

Nancy 9:38 AM  

@Speedweeder from yesterday -- I just caught up to your last post late yesterday and left you a reply on yesterday's blog just now. Thanks.

Small Child 9:38 AM  

This puzzle was easy.

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

Joe Dipinto, you are my hEro. You made this puzzle Excellent. I slogged through it but it wasn’t that fun, though I did like the Beatles clue...the answer was 50% just by the number of letters. After finishing, I googled Mapped Yosemite. Fresno really IS due south of Yosemite.

Clueless 9:40 AM  

ERN ?

Southwest?

Is ERN an airport ?

Unknown 9:42 AM  

Miserable puzzle....no fun whatsoever...

Crimson Devil 9:44 AM  

Least enjoyable puzz I’ve encountered.

Ngart1954 9:44 AM  

Agree with Rex and particularly with @Anon 12:32. You have to blame the editor for so many compromises. Especially when you read Sam’s comment about how many changes were made.

Escalator 9:53 AM  

I am being generous here, but this is the worst/most unintelligible/stupid theme I have ever seen.

CDilly52 10:01 AM  

@Joe D 5:28 am. This was your best post ever. I laughed out loud and at least had a reason to be happy I slogged through this weirdly crafted puzz!

Fischgrape 10:10 AM  

For all the defenders of ‘E-waste,’ I agree that it is real, and its proper disposal really important for our environment. But a ‘DELETEDSCENE’ IS NOT E-WASTE!!!!!

pmdm 10:14 AM  

I am in the great minority since I would not categorize the puzzle as awful as most found it. The puzzle certainly has its share of problems. Jeff Chen described them in gentler terms than the descriptions found here.

For those who still do not get the theme, try this. Substitute "whose name includes vowels which are all 'e's" for the initial e of the theme and move the phrase after the clue word. Or something like that. I find it easier to understand the theme than to put the theme into words.

I guess I rate any puzzle that doesn't annoy me with too much unknown (to me) PPP at worst as mediocre, which is how I rated this puzzle. It's all a matter of what you like and you don't like. There have been tribute puzzles I liked a great deal (especially one from a while back whose theme was Hitchcock movie titlesw) and some (such a Z) would likely disagree with me. To each his own. It takes more than personal dislike to make a puzzle horrible.

I've been rather busy and it wasn't until today that I searched and found Marlene Dietrich's recording of TURN TURN TURN. Humorous indeed, but nowhere near as bad as her recording of Little Drummer Boy.

Newboy 10:16 AM  

Egads, second day in a row I’m in total Rex agreement! Does that mean I have become a cynic? Or is this puzzle really just so frustratingly awkward? Must read prior commentary to see if someone can give me a glimpse of some merit that will restore my Pollyanna world view.

Z 10:17 AM  

Not sure this puzzle merits 70 comments by 10:00 a.m.

If you read the article I linked to yesterday and did this week’s AVCX puzzle you have the perfect example. Granted, AVCX doesn’t put out 7 puzzles a week of increasing difficulty, but set the two side by side and the quality ABYSS is pretty obvious. **Fair warning, if you are triggered by people who don’t like terrorism references in their puzzles you may want to avoid the AVCX, the theme is likely to enrage you.** The thing is, Donaldson is an experienced constructor with lots of great puzzles to his credit. I think sometimes what happens is the a person’s CRED results in a little too much leeway.

@Clueless - ERN is the ending, or “terminal,” of southwestERN. “Terminal” is an intentional misdirection to try to get the solver thinking airlines and airports. It is a fairly common cluing trope, so make a mental note. A clue like it is likely to appear again yet this week.

@anon6:44 - Coaches everywhere. I think someone mentioned that even businesses, with their habit of using sport metaphors, use the term.

@file as fog - Thank you. You got actual audible laughter out of me.

Newboy 10:28 AM  

Ah, thanks @SUSIEQ. Spot on.

CDilly52 10:32 AM  

Or as Mary Poppins would say, “Coo, what a sight!”

David 10:33 AM  

I was down to Seventeen when I thought to myself, "Oh, lots of Es in the theme answers, that's kind of stupid."

Rex, for a person who appears to be politically active you sure missed the boat on "The Secret." There's a somewhat loony person running for the Democratic nomination who's an acolyte of that snake-oil and even wrote her very own copy of the idea and got famous for doing so (in the Oprah/Gwyneth universe anyway). She's going to fix everything by harnessing love, dontcha know? As knowing how our government works is no longer a qualification for the Presidency (indeed, such ignorance seems quite prized all around these days), she may win. Why not?

Enure is probably my favorite answer in this wreck. "Inure" is the variant spelling, which came about long ago yet still hasn't supplanted the original. There's nothing particularly legal about it either, other than it's used by lawyers in its original spelling.

I guess "chalk talk" post-dates my education. We just had teachers who taught, and we read books and took tests; stuff like that. Calculators came along when I was a senior in high school and were not allowed in class because: A) only rich kids had them, and B) teachers were concerned that having an electronic machine doing the work would impair our understanding of the fundamentals behind the equations. Imagine that. How quaint.

Cool that this puzzle is so bad 9D didn't even rate a rex rant.

And thank you @joe, you made it worthwhile.

Whatsername 10:36 AM  

@Clueless: ERN would be the end (terminal) of the word southwest. That’s my best guess anyway.

Have to agree with the review today, this was just annoying. While I had no trouble with it and got the “E” theme pretty quickly, it was one of those days when I looked at the answers and thought, alrighty then. Let’s move on to more exciting activities like watching the laundry dry.

I don’t mind Rex sharing the opinions of his Twitter friends, but I do wish he could find some who don’t have to use profanities to express themselves.

Runs On Dunkin 10:38 AM  

Never felt compelled to comment before, but oof- this was awful. I was worried that Rex would comment as to this being a good puzzle, and i’d be left wondering if something is wrong with me.

nyc_lo 10:42 AM  

I don’t think I’ve ever seen this much agreement in blog comments before. If nothing else, this clusterf@¢# of a puzzle brought unity to Rex Parker-Land.

Whatsername 10:43 AM  

@Joe Dipinto: Your post alone made this puzzle worthwhile. You deserve a gold or silver medal AWARD. Pure genius!

Nancy 10:43 AM  

@pmdm (10:14). Re: Dietrich's rendition of TURN TURN TURN: "Glaub" is a truly funny word. "Glaub, glaub glaub" is funnier still. But to me, that's the only thing that makes the rendition funny. Other than that, I find her singing as I always find her singing: Irresistible. Captivating. Enchanting. Seductive. I just love the timbre of her voice and how she uses her voice. I love the throatiness of it and the fact that it seems completely untrained. I think she's one of the most charismatic performers who ever lived.

Indeed, if she were on a trading card, I'd trade 76 coloratura sopranos for one Marlene Dietrich.

jberg 10:51 AM  

The theme would be OK if one of two things was true. Either a) it's really difficult to come up with entries with no other vowels but E -- but, as @Lewis points out, there are ten other such words in the puzzle, so it can't be that hard; or else b) the theme answers are capable of being worked out once you know that they are a kind of book, waste, sign, company, etc. This is only true of THE SECRET, REFERENCE LETTER, & ENTER HERE. Oh, and SEVENTEEN, It would be true of MERCEDES-BENZ except that it isn't a business; it's a division of Daimler AG, which is a business. As @Vati noted, TERM SHEET is a thing, but not a kind of file, except by convoluted reasoning. As a result, you don't get the pleasure of trying to work out the themers without most of the crosses.

I did like the crossing of OPEN FIRE with ATF, and the reappearance of FTC so soon after Rex denounced it as obscure. And getting both EON and ERA.

@Phaedrus and others -- normally, one's tweets are seen by people who have chosen to follow one, because they are interested in seeing what one has to say about the things one normally tweets about -- so yes, the intended audience of a tweet generally is interested. @Rex is using them just to show that he isn't the only one reacting as he does.

Anonymous 10:53 AM  

it appears that OFL didn't quite get the theme:

e-whatever means, ta da - a synonym of 'whatever' that is only e as vowel.

so DELETED SCENE ends up in the 'waste can' by the author/director/producer, or possibly, the cutting room floor by the editor and thus into the waste can. the theme isn't about e-commerce or e-zines or real world e-thingees.

Bryant 10:58 AM  

Ugh, this puzzle killed me. I had THEREGRET for 18A (because who remembers THE SECRET ??), which gave me RET for finalized (as in retired -- a stretch, I know, but what in this puzzle wasn't?) and RAGE for 10D. Couldn't figure out what was wrong for 5-ish minutes.

OffTheGrid 11:00 AM  

No, but DELETEDSCENE is waste which is spelled with only E's for vowels. There are 2 parts to each theme clue/answer. So the clue, E-waste is a thing. The answer, something that is a waste spelled with only E vowels. The pattern is repeated for each theme. I hope this helps.

Surphart 11:02 AM  

@joe... What is the recipe for your wake and bake? Coffee or tea? Indica or sativa? 😎🤙

Joseph M 11:03 AM  

EEK! I'm trying to think of something positive to say about this puzzle. The only thing I can come up with is @Joe Dipinto.

Must run. A bunch of DNAS were stolen from our crime lab.

Anonymoose 11:10 AM  

A similar type of clue is in the puzzle today. 57D (a tribute to you?) A lot of pizazz. ZEES are half of the word pizazz so a lot of "pizazz".

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

These days, what with M&A gone wild with access to so much cheap money, most businesses (by their public names) are now owned by some other business. Many of them, both ownee and owner, are public businesses which trade independently on various stockee marketees. So, yes, they are businesses.

oldactor 11:14 AM  

When I was a kid, I had a book called "Chalk Talk". But I'm quite old.

xyz 11:17 AM  

I made the (good) mistake to look at CW-fiend and saw a very poor crowd rating of this puzzle while double-checking the WSJ Solution Today (No bargain there, either!) I opened this blog to see Rex's rating (Easy, Med, Hard) and that was a perplexing rating, so I was prepared to just put my head down and enter letters, make connections and suss it out. This puzzle turned out to be rather easy that way with crosses making answers apparent, but the theme was a puzzler. I saw MERCEDESBENZ and thought well, I drive an "E", is that it? Then I realized my E key was on fire from being over-used. Answers with all E-VOWELS!!! Easy.

There seems a sense of entitlement among excellent puzzle-solvers that just as the grid should be symmetric and rule-worthy, there is no such guarantee that all the fill should necessarily be logical, that is why it's called a 'PUZZLE' - and there is a compliment in there. This was a relative outlier THUSLY.

So ... we've had ARTIE (R & T) puzzle recently, this all E's, now we need a puzzle with S L N to complete the WHEEL. (oof!)

Silly-ness:
Again, I am ENTHRALLED with the righteous indignations that abound today! Of course OPEN FIRE is inappropriate these days, but if a X-word puts someone over the edge, OHMY we really are in trouble!
(I have a twitter account, but I truly could not care less!)

Δ <>b@JAE - YES!!! John Updike was PURE GOLD!<>/b #Rabbit
Δ CHALK TALK was 1960's Basketball routine fare because back then it was a TEAM game, not five felons one-on-one simultaneously. Old? Sure, but Sam Donldson is older than me fer chri$$ake!
Δ ENURE is indeed to accustom. There are several really good peer-reviewed Psych studies in the literature that show PTSD is a pre-existing failure to enure from certain stressors thus decompensate (Don't shoot the messenger) and this is the exact word used in them as a hardening response to stress. One can only guess why this hasn't gone mainstream yet.
Δ EOS went straight in because it was the first 3 letter GOD to come to mind.
Δ DNAs - it's a puzzle, duh


I didn't really mind this one. A very thin, albeit well-executed theme, but UGH to the crapfill. It DID take me a minute to figure out the theme ...

NEXT!

Anonymous 11:20 AM  

Doesn't the puzzle have to go through test solvers? How could the editor, the test solvers, and all that think this was a good puzzle when everyone else thinks it sucks?

I really agree with @Z 10:17 that alot of regular contributors get slack cut for them on ridiculous puzzles like this. There's got to be better puzzles out there getting rejected.

Does Will get any kind of feedback from the solving public? Or does he just ignore it?

If someone gets this post to Will, please have him come here and tell us.

Speedweeder 11:22 AM  

@Nancy - Thanks, I read your reply and tacked on another.

JPM 11:22 AM  

Fresno - The least pet-friendly city in the United States:

https://www.thrillist.com/news/nation/wallethub-most-pet-friendly-cities-2019

joho 11:34 AM  

I was brought back today only to say, "Joe DiPinto, you made my day!" Mucho kudos to you!

QuasiMojo 11:39 AM  

@Nancy, I agree totally with your take on Marlene. Although I also love a good coloratura soprano. Natalie Dessay, par exemple. I wonder, have you ever seen Dietrich sing "I'm the laziest girl in town"? She performed it in the Hitchcock flick "Stage Fright." Apparently he wanted to cut it -- almost a DELETED SCENE-- but for me it's the highlight of the film. By Cole Porter, of course. I also love her live concert album where she EMCEES "Burt Bacharach" -- her accompanist, but mangles his name hilariously. I hope this comment isn't too "effete" for some readers of this blog. :-)

mmorgan 11:47 AM  

I wish we could see the constructor's original version -- before 81% of the clues were changed by the editor(s)...

Unknown 11:47 AM  

Fresno is a horrible hot mess of a place. Full of Turk hating armenians who can't forget the desperate wartime actions of an empire which withered away a century ago

What? 12:10 PM  

I’ve been doing Times crosswords for over 60 years and I don’t remember one this bad (of course at my age my memory goes back only a few months). But still - bad.

Gene 12:15 PM  

Think about appending it to the word southwest

TJS 12:16 PM  

In the minority again. I'm halfway through the comments, and I'm wondering where all the hatred is coming from. I get OFL's reaction, he didn't finish under 3 minutes. But look at the grid. The "theme" answers : name a single intersecting down answer that is ungettable, unfair, or not in the language. "dnas" because its plural ? "enry" when the clue gives it away and we've seen it multiple times? "edt" when the "d" is a layup ? Gimme a break. I was happy just to get a Wednesday that put up a fight. Who needs the theme?

One last thing. Are we to understand that Rex reads and posts tweets that agree with him, but does not bother to read comments from his blog readers.

Rita 12:17 PM  

@anonymous 10:53
Rex had the theme description right, though in a bit of a fractured sentence. [things] is my edit:
“Theme clues are [things] that I guess are actual things starting with an E-prefix (E-waste, really??), and then answers are just an example of the post-E part of the clue in which all the vowels are "E"s:”

That said, removing the judgement calls would make the explanation clearer:
Theme clues are actual things starting with an E-prefix. Answers are an example of the post-E part of the clue in which all the vowels are "E"s:

brendal 12:18 PM  

Yes. I like fun,creative. This was neither.

jb129 12:21 PM  

AWFUL

Amelia 12:30 PM  

@TJS
You nailed it. His twitter privilege police or as someone called it the hashtag woke crowd are on his wavelength. We are not. Even when we agree with him. As most do for this puzzle, which was pretty horrible.

And it wasn't freakin' horrible because it had the TONE DEAF CLUE AND ANSWER OPEN FIRE. Since when is the NY Times Crossword supposed to be--what's the opposite of tone-deaf? They can do whatever the hell they want without worrying about what the college kids are offended by.

But good grief. What a terrible puzzle. And I kinda liked the idea of the theme. But it didn't follow through. How was I supposed to get The Secret based on the clue given? Deleted Scenes? Waste? Whatever. E-Magazine and E-sign were the only ones that even slightly worked. Call me stupid, but I think of Mercedes Benz as a car, not a business.

(I was about to complain about took for booking and ran in and I just got it and actually like it.)

And there's Mother Teresa again. She makes the rounds, doesn't she?

It's August. Intern season. Vacation season. Someone wasn't minding the store.

GILL I. 12:31 PM  

Ah @joho...Good to see you again. For those not in the know, @joho was (for me) the original originator of taking words from the puzzle and turning them into a funny story. Her first was about a dude in a saloon and it was hysterically funny. Like @Joe's......

Anonymous 12:35 PM  

Ok, that's it. Shortz, you just lost a subscriber to your puzzle. With inane filth like this that you think is good, it shows your diminishing taste of what a good puzzle makes.

I remember just a few years ago, people were defending Will on answers that were iffy, basically because the puzzles were still good.

Now, one rotten puzzle after another. Keep it up, Will, and no one will be doing your puzzles anymore.

Adieu!

boomer54 12:35 PM  


ERROR in 23A .... Justice Dept Division is now Alcohol,Explosives,Tobacco and Firearms ...

Masked and Anonymous 12:42 PM  

@RP: FRESNO is around 62 miles S of Yosemite. Did it take U many hours to travel between em, becuz U were younger and on a bike and tended to get lost a lot? (Some of the trip would be really uphill, I'd grant.) But … M&A votes FRESYES, on its clue.

It took dEnsE m&e a lot looonger than it should've, to catch onto the puztheme. {E-book?} = THESECRET meant nuthin to m&e, even after I'd filled that themer all in. Lost many precious nenesecends.

I'd think it'd be real, reel hard to come with 7 themers that do what these puppies do. [@RP left MERCEDESBENZ off his blog themer list, for some reason?] Usin em all is understandable, considerin how much day-um work it probably took just to dream em all up. A pride thing. (EMCEED also maybe qualifies as a longish btw themer candidate, technically speakin.)
Does lead to a snootload of E's [44!], plus a nice spot-o-desperation, of course…

staff weeject pick, culled luvinly from a delightfully generous 26 choices: OOX. Seemed to be a real crowd-pleaser, here. Lots of normally E-friendly folks readily opened fire, on good ol' OOX.

EMCEED = {E-billed?} ... perhaps? yeah, didn't think so.

@Joe Dipinto: har

fave xword words: FRESNO. LITEFM. HOBNOB. BUSTLE. REARENDS, with primo clue.

Thanx, Mr. Donaldson. Different, so I kinda liked it. Yer new challenge: A puz with 44 U's.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


not so eesy:
**gruntz**

joho 12:45 PM  

Awww,ty.

old timer 12:55 PM  

I generally think a day without @LMS is a day without sunshine (or horselaughs) but @JoeDapinto more than makes up for that lacuna today. Funniest post here in AEONS. The puzzle? Not that great. though I would have admired the theme had it not been messed up by TERMSHEET.

This lifelong Californian was fine with the FRESNO clue. If you go to Yosemite, your choices leaving the Valley are FRESNO (South), Merced (West) and Big Oak Flat/Oakdale/San Francisco (North, or actually, Northwest). Living where we do, we take the latter, and it is a pretty drive. (Once the snow melts, you can also go East via Tioga Pass; the sign says "Lee Vining" a town you wou not otherwise know at all; but it gets you to 395, where you can head North to Reno or South to Bishop).

Nice to see a reference to PAULA Poundstone, everybody's favorite participant on Wait Wait.

Joe Dipinto 12:59 PM  

@Quasi -- wasn't "Laziest Girl In Town" -- the title, anyway -- the inspiration for Lili Von Shtupp's "I'm Tired" in "Blazing Saddles"?

Thanks all for the responses to my earlier post. I don't know what possessed me to come up with that, but I'm glad you were entertained. ��

Teedmn 1:14 PM  

For some reason, I didn't mind today's puzzle at all. I think it is because I was clueless as to the theme and was relieved to figure it out after I finished which made me happy; ergo, a fine puzzle.

24A nAb/tAG/BAG, yay. FTC, we had a warm-up appearance of that one earlier this week so that helped. Hits back? at 39D was REActs to which had to mostly be overwritten. And yes, I said, "OCHS" when I filled in 9D. Too painful...

I circled the clues for 67A, It's no miniature gulf and 57D, A lot of pizazz? (seems like "pizzazz" would have worked even better) as fun clues.

Samuel Donaldson, you will hear no ECHOES of other commenters' NITS from me. I thought this was fine.

And @Joe Dipinto, thanks for the laugh, by George.

tea73 1:24 PM  

FRESNO seemed fine to me. Drive pretty much due south of Yosemite it's the first city you get to. DNAs was terrible. I thought the OOX clue was funny, though I ended up getting it via the downs. REARENDS was well-clued too. We owned a very old MERCEDES BENZ the last year we were in Germany, thinking that our old Fiat with the hood that wouldn't latch properly after it had been front-ended was probably not the ideal thing to be driving in with our brand new baby.

But agree with everyone the theme felt forced and not fun.

Coniuratos 1:24 PM  

Also, one point of order - ERATO is not the muse of lyric poetry. She's the muse of love poetry. Euterpe is the muse of lyric poetry.

Anonymous 1:33 PM  

Ha! Ha! You tell em'! Can you believe these softies have the gall to expect cultural sensitivity around such a mild topic as mass shootings? Come on! We've only had, what, two such atrocities in the last few weeks? That's not even three! Stop complaining snowflakes!

Anonymous 1:35 PM  

Lily,Lily,Lily. What a woman. It's twoo, it's twoo.

Hey, redanman, "five felons one-on-one" ? Were ya wearin your sheet when ya wrote that one ?

C. Augustus 1:39 PM  

Is there anyone in Rome who has not hated this puzzle?

Anonymous 1:42 PM  

Brilliant

Anonymous 1:47 PM  

This puz was so bad, even Deb Amlen panned it, albeit nicer than Rex.
Have a look-see.

Anonymous 2:04 PM  

@ anon 7:00 AM - bingo

Seth 2:15 PM  

Seconding this. E-waste is definitely a thing. I even have a friend whose doctoral research is focused on e-waste and the increasing problems it creates.

But agreed with the rest of what Rex said.

Wm. C. 2:23 PM  


I've actually visited Knotts Berry Farm and several other LA and San Diego tourist with a frat brother, both of us in advanced AF ROTC at RPI in upstate NY about a half-century ago. The entire 10-day XMas break trip cost us each about $12 out-of-pocket, as I distinctly recall.

Travel west took 2 days on slow cargo planes, with an overnight stop at the AF Academy. Free all-day passes, to the main LA and SD tourist attractions, were from frat brothers working holiday jobs at the locales, and free room and board was at the chapter houses. Also free rides in their cars, including the ride LA-SD.

To return, we went over to the SD Naval Air Station, and lucked out with a ride east on a Naval P3a turboprop, with an airspeed of over 400mph, and helpful trailing winds, getting to Patuxent River NAS in Maryland before local dinner time, and once again staying overnight.

The next morning we hopped a ride on another P3a which was heading up to Portland to get fresh Lobster for the Saturday officers club dinner. When the pilot asked where was home and we replied the Boston area, he said what the heck, we'll drop you off at what was then Weymouth NAS, a bit south of Boston. Nice guy, and I wondered what that stop cost the navy, but anyway ...

The last leg of my trip was by train home, the only part that cost me anything. When in CA, we sent postcards to lots of friends and family, impressing them with the CA postmarks. A memorable this, as the above proves! ;-)

Unknown 3:13 PM  

Have we really reached a point where the term “open fire” triggers people. Good grief. Why don’t we just stop speaking? Anything can “trigger” anybody, including the word “trigger.” This is psuedo outrage, at its finest.

gilly 3:20 PM  

A puzzle, sadly, sans plaisir.

At a loss at how CANCER or PEE (as a verb) is considered off-putting, but OPENFIRE is a-okay. At worst clue it like "Spot for smores"

Also surprised to see constructor elsewhere lament losing his "Fife player" clue for KNOTTS. By my count it's been used five times by NYT alone.

Like the idea of E being the "reference letter" at least.

Paul 3:20 PM  

Great burger drive in here in Sarasota. The Hob Nob

Tim Brosnan 3:56 PM  

I share most of the gripes here. I finished it and still wasn’t sure of the theme other than words with lots of “E”s. I knew something was up when I got “Mercedes Benz”. E-waste is a real thing that refers to old computers, monitors, etc but it doesn’t fit the clue.

john towle 4:28 PM  

Visited Knotts Berry Farm in 1953 on the way to the Boy Scout Jamboree. Lovely spot. Irvine Ranch where we camped all sand & sun…not a building within miles. Pretty well populated now. Times change. I liked the puzzle. Learned what tic tac toe called in the UK. One more thing: when I was a kid people hobnobed. Good times. Thanx, Sam.

Best,

john

Geezer 4:32 PM  

It does fit but you have to understand the theme. MERCEDESBENZ is a business with all vowels being E. Hence E-business. It's word (and letter) play. I can't believe so many people didn't understand the theme today. But that didn't stop them from complaining about it.

Blackbird 4:51 PM  

I wrote a long comment, but cybergremlins ate my comment, so I'm trying again. First, thank you, Joe De Pinto, for your delightful, funny post, your witty free associations that made scrolling through the comments so worth while. I found the puzzle easy-medium, with only a few puzzling spots here and there in the north.
And I was amused by the e-theme. At first, when it became apparent that "Mercedes Benz" was the correct answer for 52A, I had a wtf moment. Then, I continued to be baffled -- what did 58A answer "Seventeen" have to do E-mag? Is the answer correct only because Seventeen indeed is a magazine? But why an E-magazine? And I had no idea what a "Term sheet" was. Sooner or later, though, the e-e-e theme became easy. (Yes, I meant that to be a pun of sorts, but I doubt that it will be recognized as a pun.)

When I got the answer to 45A, "Enter here", I immediately thought of "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here", straight out of Dante's "Inferno", and I thought that perhaps Samuel A. Donaldson was sending us a warning, that the answer was not only an E-sign, but also a portent, that the puzzle was unsolvable and we were going to flame out. But "hope springs eternal", as Alexander Pope told us in his "Essay On Man", and yes, the puzzle was solved.

Z 4:58 PM  

Points of Order:
Rex did not say the FTC was obscure yesterday. He called it “a cruddy little federal agcy.” Personally, I think well run government agencies are necessary to a civil society, but the “cruddy” adjective is hardly uniquely Rexian. Also, I really think he was referring to all alphabet soup federal agencies including the too oft seen ATF and DEA.

@boomer54 - It is still the ATF even if it’s full name is the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

@Coniuratos - Britanica says ERATO is the muse of lyric and love poetry. Other sites agree with you.

@TJS - Below is the very first comment ever posted by “grandpamike” I think Rex stopped reading the comments soon after.
First, please do not comment on puzzles the day they are printed. Further, many across the country get today's puzzle next week, so you shouldn't give away the fun for them.

Second, many of the words you are objecting to are entirely familiar to anyone who has solved puzzles even relatively briefly.

Your criticism that some of these words are not familiar to all people generally is an unfair criticism. Like any pastime, this one has its own world, and that includes stars with interesting names, animals familiar to those who watch the Animal Channel, etc.

This blog is just a bad idea.

IMHO.

Daniel S 5:03 PM  

“Chalk talk” is a pretty common phrase in the world of academic mathematicians. It exists to distinguish talks (usually at conferences) given using board and writing implement from those given using pre-prepared slides on a projector. Even though it’s a familiar phrase to me, I think of it as un-Wednesday jargon, so resisted filling in 1A until only the NW remained!

Z 5:07 PM  

BTW, September 28, 2006. Day Four of Rex Parker. He hardly seems like the same person those first few years.

Mary Ann Meadows 6:45 PM  

@Unknown 3:13 PM- Amen. These people need to get over their feigned outrage.

Music Man 7:20 PM  

Yes, my sentiments exactly! Hated this puzzle. No fun at all and when I finished, I looked at the themes and just scratched my head, wondering, is that it???

Space Is Deep 7:45 PM  

I almost always think Rex to too harsh of critic, come on, it's just a puzzle! But this is one time I agree. Lame theme. TERM SHEET?

Anonymous 8:29 PM  

@Space is Deep:
Lame theme. TERM SHEET?

well the Masters of the Universe on Wall Street write them all day long. the NYT readers are very familiar with Wall Street. Main Street, not so much.

MGTopAgent 8:40 PM  

Agree with Rex. Really ridiculous nonsensical and unfun puzzle stupidly clued.

Nancy 9:02 PM  

@Quasi -- Yes, I did see Dietrich perform Laziest Girl in Town, though I can't remember if I saw it in the film Stage Fright -- why can't I remember a thing about that movie? --or in a Dietrich retrospective on TV. I'm surprised it's by Cole Porter -- it doesn't seem all that Cole Porter-y to me and I thought at the time that Dietrich sang it sort of as a parody of herself. Did Porter write it specifically for her? Do you know?

@Joe D -- I'm sure that Lili Von Shtupp was meant to be a sendup of Marlene and her song is one of the funniest things I've ever seen in a movie. Is there anyone out there btw who hasn't seen "Blazing Saddles"? If so, rent it soonest!

RHopkinson 9:06 PM  

@File as fog: Thank you for a great belly laugh!

Carola 9:14 PM  

Caught on to the theme at REFERENCE LETTER so was able to write in MERCEDES BENZ from the Z and SEVENTEEN from the clue. Difficulty level: medium. Delight factor: low. Learned: TERM SHEET.

I read comments just now from bottom up, meaning that it became ever more tantalizing to get up to @Joe DiPinto. So worth all the anticipation.

Anonymous 9:30 PM  

@Phaedrus, by your logic why would anyone care about your comments?

FrostMo 10:38 PM  

Zero fun in the theme and took my first DNF on a Wednesday in quite awhile so also very difficult. Clues weren’t on my wave length at all.

xitixen 10:43 PM  

Personal pet peeve: slapping “E-“ in front of words to make a clue feel contemporary. The result is almost always a made-up word that nobody says ever. Ever.

The *only* exception I can recall is e-book. The rest, like the perpetual e-mag or e-zine, elicit an eye roll, a hiss, or both every time.

Granted, this theme wasn’t guilty of this grievous offense per se, but it did beat that particular nerve to within an inch of death.

Thus endeth my e-comment.

Anonymous 12:09 AM  

147 comments about how bad this puzzle was. Shortz, you hearing this?

B 6:02 AM  

Redeemed some of the time wasted on this puzzle. Brilliant.

pdplot 12:05 PM  

Mercedes has an E-Class. maybe that's what the constructor meant? Who knows? Deleted scene? Wha?? DNF and proud of it.

Burma Shave 10:08 AM  

KNOTT’S ZEES RACE

PAULA, your MERCEDESBENZ is cool,
by GEORGE, it’s no RAM nor a Ford,
and EVENIF you’re sheepish to REFUEL,
THE MERE brand will ERN EWE an AWARD.

--- TERESA VAN ENRY

rondo 11:22 AM  

Es ZEES, but not compelling. Because of all those Es the theme could also have included 34a 3d 19d 33d 36d 38d 40d 45d 52d 57d and 59d. Dull as can be. And don’t get so excited about OPENFIRE, it’s a real term.

Fastidiousness is not being ‘ANAL’, it is supposedly being ANAL-retentive. ANAL is an infantile stage promoted by that quack Freud. Anybody else take Psych 101? Of course you did, so try some correct usage.

Mother TERESA Palmer ERNs a yeah baby.

No AWARD for this puz.

rondo 11:24 AM  

BTW - it seems only the good, the bad, or the ugly puzzles get this many comments.

spacecraft 11:34 AM  

Tell you what: give me the MERCEDESBENZ, and the rest of this can be a DELETEDSCENE.

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a MERCEDES-BENZ?
My friends all drive Porsches and I must make amends--
I work all my life; no help from my friends!
Oh Lord, won't you buy me a MERCEDES-Benz?!

And in fact, let's AWARD the DOD posthumously to the great Janis Joplin.

As to the overall grid? What OFC said, plus a couple of horrid partials. Double-bogey.

William Heyman 2:04 PM  

I am 81 and doing the NY Times puzzles for years. Only commented here maybe four times. Just because you can do something does not mean that you should do it. This puzzle was not necessary. There should be some enjoyment. I had none.

Diana, LIW 2:27 PM  

So I finished the puzzle, but still had no idea what it was getting at. They were all things, but...then I came here.

Oh.

That about sums it up.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting, Waiting

rainforest 3:06 PM  

The "theme" gradually dawned on me as I solved. I left some blanks in the first two themers, but as I progressed I realized that the only vowels in the themers were Es. Different, but certainly not worth the indignation evident here.

Anyway, I finished with no w/o's, didn't sneer at OOX, don't mind partials or initialisms, and hence enjoyed it.

So there.

leftcoast 3:14 PM  

Smooth, easy, and likable enough.

Got the gimmick near the end when it became clear that the plentiful "E's" were the only vowels in the themers.

Didn't we see a puzzle with the same or very similar idea recently? Think so. EVEN IF not, it helped in the solve to think so.

How many E's are in this puzzle? Lots, maybe the most ever? No matter; E is the most frequent letter in most if not all NYT puzzles.

Got a kick out of REARENDS clued as "Hits back". The FTC should hang it up; the Do Not Call Registry lost any real effect it might have had long ago.

This puzzle deserves a little rEspEct.



Luke 4:49 PM  

I'd like to go on record as hating clues that refer to something about the construction or character of the word itself, as opposed to referring to what it means. Example: "A lot of pizazz" = "Zees". Almost as bad is the forced abbreviation of "sch" for "Brown, for one". If we accept "sch" as a proper abbreviation for "school", will we accept the answer to the clue "_ _ _ of fish" as "sch"?

leftcoast 8:08 PM  

To cyberspace:

I'm surprised by the angered rejections of this puzzle by so many.

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