Yellow citrus fruit used in Japanese cuisine / WED 8-7-19 / Certain German wheels informally / Main component of crab shell / Talking tree of Tennyson poem / Futuristic film of 1982

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Constructor: Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Challenging (6:07) (second slowest Wednesday of the year)

THEME: PIG LATIN (66A: "Language" that explains the answers to the six starred clues) — answers don't fit clues, but if you think of them being PIG LATIN answers, then sure, they fit

Theme answers:
  • EARTH DAY (i.e. dearth) (17A: *Scarcity)
  • ENTREE (i.e. "Tron") (23A: *Futuristic film of 1982)
  • UNDERWAY (i.e. wonder) (25A: *Amazement)
  • ASHTRAY (i.e. trash) (40A: *Lay waste to)
  • EAGLE RAY (i.e. regal) (53A: *Magnificent) 
  • OUTLAY (i.e. lout) (55A: *Oaf)
Word of the Day: CHITIN (8A: Main component of a crab shell) —
Chitin (C8H13O5N)n (/ˈktɪn/ KY-tin), a long-chain polymer of N-acetylglucosamine, is a derivative of glucose. It is a primary component of cell walls in fungi, the exoskeletons of arthropods, such as crustaceans and insects, the radulae of molluscscephalopod beaks, and the scales of fish and lissamphibians. The structure of chitin is comparable to another polysaccharidecellulose, forming crystalline nanofibrils or whiskers. In terms of function, it may be compared to the protein keratin. Chitin has proved useful for several medicinal, industrial and biotechnological purposes. (wikipedia)
• • •

This was very hard for me, largely because there are two themers in the (tiny) NW corner (where I always start), and I spent far too long up there trying to make something happen. Even the non-theme stuff up there, e.g. BRAIN (2D: Hard drive, essentially) and REDPEN (5D: Grader's tool), wasn't computing for me. Eventually I must've gotten the theme from EARTHDAY or ENTREE or ASHTRAY, and things picked up a little, but not (at all) a lot. Never heard of CHITIN, so that hurt. Never heard of EAGLE RAY, so that also hurt (had EARL GRAY there at one point—only two letters off!). Knew the name BOTHA (48D: Louis ___, South Africa's first P.M.), but only the later one (P.W., the *last* P.M. of South Africa, it turns out) (I guess they went with the Boer War hero guy (Louis) over the more-closely-associated-with-Apartheid guy, but I'm not sure that makes the name any more appealing). Kinda sorta heard of YUZU (42D: Yellow citrus fruit used in Japanese cuisine) but still needed all the crosses to be sure (had it as YUZO at one point). And then there were a bunch of "?" clues I had trouble parsing, e.g. the clues on PAN (39A: Go for the gold?) and INORGANIC (35D: Lifeless?). So my first impression was "hard," which was also my abiding impression, difficulty-wise. My other impression was "anticlimactic"—that revealer revealed nothing; it was just telling me something I already know. I was glad for the gimme, but from a solving standpoint, blecch. I already figured that *&$% out.

The difficulty isn't a problem, though. This probably should've been a Thursday (by my time, anyway), but it's fine as a tough Wednesday. The problem is ... well, its manifold. First, the theme is just plain. Ordinary. So what? But worse than that, I had an immediate feeling of "I've seen this theme lots of times." Feels like something that's been done and redone in various forms. And while sometimes these things happen, in this case, the theme is so basic, so unremarkable, that ... it feels like something the constructor should've checked against the databases. Now if you use only the constructor's *own* database (the one affiliated with his blog, which is affiliated with the NYT, which ... there's so much conflict of interest there, but let's leave that alone for now) ... as I say, if you just look at the NYTXW database, you'd say "nope, never been done before." But if you did a teeny bit more research, just opened up's database and ran some of your themers, or even just your revealer, through a basic search, well then bam and bam. Done and done. There they are. Two recent puzzles with exactly the same theme. Both in the past few years (once earlier *this* year). Both times by women. Both with themers shared by today's puzzle. In short, this constructor didn't do his minimum due diligence and ended up rehashing the work of other constructors. But because he did it in the *Times* ("the greatest puzzle in the world!"), he can pretend (as we all can) that this is original, and as far as most Times solvers are concerned, it will be. I have no real problem with theme concepts being redone, if a. a lot of time has passed and / or b. the theme is executed in a newish, original way. But neither a. nor b. applies here. A veteran constructor should know better, and do better. It's especially galling that a man's gonna get credit for a theme that two *women* thought of and executed and published before him.

Here are those other PIG LATIN grids, btw: the first, "Pork Tongue," by MaryEllen Uthlaut, published by Universal, 4/12/19, and the second, untitled, by Robin Stears, published by the LA Times, 12/18/15

Have a nice day!
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


    jae 12:11 AM  

    Tough. I’m not a fan of PIGLATIN. Maybe because I’m dyslexic, or maybe because I thought the kids who used it when I was growing up were kind of jerky, or maybe because it’s inane. In any case, I did not like this one.

    @Rex - I do the LATimes everyday which I guess is why this one had a deja vu feel.

    ghkozen 12:23 AM  

    PW Botha was not the last PM of South Africa. He was the last PM to rule the racist hell-state that was apartheid South Africa. There have been several presidents of the pluralistic democracy since then. Like many of his predecessors, he should have swung for his crimes. But because he tipped his hat to the concept of not murdering people on a massive scale for the color of their skin, he got a Nobel Peace Prize. Go figure.

    Anoa Bob 12:41 AM  

    When I saw the grid structure with the somewhat scattered black square arrangement resulting in all those three and four letter entries, I was saying to myself "It's going to be tough breathing life into that mess." Then along comes some beauties like TORIC (18D) and, especially, SCHEMA (31D) and prospects brightened.

    But the themers weren't making any sense, so I peeked at the reveal and my heart sank. PIG LATIN?!? Are you for real? Get out of town! I first heard of PIG LATIN in elementary school and even then I thought it was stupid. That hasn't changed. Bail. Pull the plug. I'm outa here. DNF and DNC.

    I'll leave you with this ancient puzzler: What do you get if you put lipstick on a PIG?

    puzzlehoarder 12:51 AM  

    This was a Thursday level Wednesday. The PIGLATIN theme was bad enough but throwing in the phonetic spelling made it down right painful. Maybe that's just a feature of PIGLATIN I'm really not that familiar with it. As ugly as parts of this were I enjoyed it like any puzzle I have to work at.

    Junk like YKNOW was balanced by YUZU, BOTHA and LOTUS. Up top IHEARYA is made up for by CHITIN and TWAEKONDO.

    REDPEN was hard for me to get because I misread the clue as being "Gardener's tool." I had all the consonants in place before I finally read the clue correctly. Sheesh.

    I doubt anyone else thinks this way but when I saw that 8A was CHITIN I couldn't help imagining a band of lobsters singing "CHITIN On My Back" to the tune of Thin Lizzy's "Fighting My Way Back."

    Good ol' Joe 1:15 AM  

    How does 23A pass the theme consistency test? The others are all literal Pig Latin spellings but that one’s a...Pig Latin homonym...or something?

    JMS 1:49 AM  

    I never cared much for Pig Latin - I just don’t get it, but I didn’t find this puzzle much of a challenge.

    Anonymous 1:50 AM  

    Oh Michael you are just one great big crybaby.

    KevCo 2:08 AM  

    I frankly don't think originality is important, except for Sunday, which is the marquee puzzle, but I do agree that a conceit as obvious and threadbare as "Pig Latin" needs more panache than what is offered here. If the theme were a little less tired and the fill a little better, the lack of originality wouldn't bother me.

    Also, I get that, phonetically, "entree" sounds like the Pig Latin version of "Tron," but when you move the end syllable to the front, you get "Trent," which confused the hell out of me. That cost me like thirty seconds because I was stuck on E.T. (also a 1982 movie) and wondered whether there was some weird sci-fi movie named "Rent" that I'd never heard of. But anyway. The Mets are never going to lose again.

    Anonymous 2:08 AM  

    Jeff comments at his site: "I wrote this puzzle in late 2017, and Will accepted it in mid-2018.... painful when I opened up Mary Ellen's puzzle and got that sinking feeling." I'm not sure how "doing a teeny bit more research" would have let him see the future.

    I was baffled for a while, wondering why RENT was clued as "Futuristic film of 1982". Oh the vowel sound spelling wackiness!


    chefwen 2:08 AM  

    Got all the right letters in their little boxes, but there was no joy in the solve. Never enjoyed pig Latin, never understood pig Latin and don’t wish to even try to understand it. Speak English, people.

    Can’t wait to see what @Lewis has to say. Maybe his positive attitude will sway me. Right now I’m just looking forward to Thursday’s puzzle.

    Anonymous 2:14 AM  


    What the hell is that supposed to be? How does that fly?
    Ya know, that is just absurd.

    a.corn 2:30 AM  

    Dude, give the identity politics a rest. Best to give the xworld politics a rest too. Jesus.

    Alex M 2:57 AM  

    This grid actually gave me that elusive "ooooohhh" moment, though not from the revealer. As soon as I saw the "Language..." clue I plugged in PIGLATIN, but I also got cocky and went around filling in the end of every themer with -AY - I thought the answers would use the "proper" Pig Latin spelling! Ended up with ONDERWAY crossing BAYOO and side-eyeing JC for playing fast and loose with the swamp spelling... It wasn't until I saw EARTHDAY that I realized the themers would be recognizable phrases, giving me that beautiful, audible "oooohhh". So, I enjoyed this. :)

    Jonathan Tomer 3:27 AM  

    Yikes. Both original works even had the revealer in the exact same spot, and literally the only themer in this one that wasn't in the other two was the worst by far, ENTREE (which in addition to feeling like pretty bad faith, and just straight up not working in some accents, took me forever because I was trying to figure out how the hell one turns "E.T." into pig-Latin).

    I actually got the revealer before any of the themers, and it was helpful (especially for EAGLE RAY, of which I hadn't heard but was obvious from the clue so I went with it). And CHITIN was my very first answer. Yet the whole thing took me over twenty minutes ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Phil 4:27 AM  

    I hear ya @jonathan 3:27.
    I clicked the first themer and looked at the revealer clue and figured piglatin would be the most plausible thing for a crossword language theme. Yet with this info. filling in all the ‘ay’s and really not stumbling too much except the side-eye look at ENTREE it was way under my average and came in at 24min. Pretty quick. Even a Monday puzzle of long ago that didn’t record my completion, where I had to go back and refill it in knowing all the answers came in barely under 5 minutes so speed solving is beyond my comprehension. i’d like to see Rex or some of the other speedsters in action.

    Fiddle 5:17 AM  

    Think you may be confusing PW Botha with FW De Klerk. Having grown up in South Africa (under apartheid), I can attest to the fact that he deserved the peace prize along with Nelson Mandela. The two men did an amazing thing by negotiating the end of apartheid without inciting civil war. PW Botha on the other hand was an evil man who could never have done what FW did.

    Loren Muse Smith 5:17 AM  

    Several years ago, Jeff Chen used to comment on this site. On a day when one of his puzzles was running, he commented that he liked mentoring fledgling constructors and gave his email. I started peppering him with theme ideas, and he always responded quickly and graciously, no matter how ridiculous my ideas were. (I wince now at some of them, sheesh.) I finally had an idea that interested him, and his reply went something like this: I really like this one, so you can do it alone while I coach from the side, or we can co-construct. I’m ok with either. The spotlight didn’t interest him at all.

    Today, he’s being accused of not checking to see if this has been done before.

    Exhibit #1 – the grid by Mary Ellen Uthlaut - was published in 2018. Jeff submitted his puzzle in 2017. So this one doesn’t even count.

    Exhibit #2 is the only one that would have been in the cruciverb database. Who knows what happened there, but I can guarantee you that this morning Jeff is not all yay-I-stole-this-idea-and-made-it-mine. And that’s the implication I’m reading in . . .

    “But because he did it in the *Times* ("the greatest puzzle in the world!"), he can pretend (as we all can) that this is original…” (bold face mine)

    This is harsh. Period. It’s one thing to ashtray a grid, a theme, but to re-aim your complaint at Jeff himself and his honor, this is crossing the line.

    I know Jeff – lots of us here know Jeff – but for those of you who don’t know him, please know that he is pretty much The Last person who would take pleasure today and enjoy “pretending” that this idea was original, was his.

    @Z – I know you’re gonna come in and explain why this is not over the line, how I’m misunderstanding this. Shoot.

    PS - ENTREE was hands down my absolute favorite themer. Precisely because of the way it's spelled.

    fkdiver 5:48 AM  

    Easy Wednesday. Maybe because when I was growing up all the kids used pig Latin. We thought it would keep secrets from our parents. It didn't.

    Sam Buggeln 6:09 AM  

    This was way more like a Thursday time for me too, seemed like a lot of very tough cluing combined with the scrambly theme. But I have always thought pig Latin was fun so I enjoyed them for the bad clever puns they are. Especially ENTREE, which bumped an already-good puzzle up a notch. (People, pig Latin is a phonetic language, not a written one.) I couldn’t care less about xword constructor drama, but I’ll say that throwing bitter rage bombs is a bad look in general, but throwing them from a place of misinformation is, well, sigh.

    EricNC 6:15 AM  

    @lms. Well said. Nuff said.

    Lewis 6:34 AM  

    Let me second @loren's praise of Jeff's character. He has been generous (and fast) with his help whenever I've asked him for it.

    I loved PIG LATIN when I was a kid -- my brain is wired to love wordplay -- and this puzzle threw me back into my kid mind, which is always a treat for me. And maybe because Pig Latin is so embedded in the warp and woof of my mind, as soon as I had EAR along with [Scarcity], my brain gleefully shouted the answer, and I proceeded to enjoy figuring out the other theme answers (EAGLE RAY wouldn't come because I hadn't heard of it). IMO, I don't think this puzzle needed a reveal, but maybe there are a lot of people who haven't experienced Pig Latin.

    I liked the echoing answers ANNA and ANNAL, along with ARAB and ARAL. Plus the trio of colloquials: SPOSE, YKNOW, and I HEAR YA. And the clues for SOFTBALL and DATA. And of course, the jank-free grid, which is a given with Jeff.

    Thanks for the transport to childhood, Jeff, and for a lot of good figuring out in this puzzle!

    Hungry Mother 6:42 AM  

    Slightly on the easy side here this morning. My hard drive was working very well. Loved the wordplay of the theme.

    Dave 6:46 AM  

    A hard drive is not a brain. That would be a CPU.

    Lewis 6:47 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Lewis 6:50 AM  

    Okay. It's been years since I've done this, and it may be years before I do it again. I used to post puzzlers based on the puzzle of the day, that I called PPPs. Now that term has taken a new meaning here, a worthy meaning at that, so I won't call the following a PPP, simply an FUT (Follow Up Teaser):

    When you put two of today's puzzle answers together, you get what sounds like a term that might well be taught in an English class. Find another puzzle answer that is an example of that term and post its last letter.

    QuasiMojo 6:52 AM  

    I SPOSE people write YKNOW in books heavy on dialect, maybe Twain, at his worst, but it stumped me. I had OK NOW and wondered if OUT LAO was some trendy Anime character. Sad to have a DNF on a Wednesday but I simply didn't care enough to devote any more time to trying to figure it out. Stuff like NFL GAME is SLEEPY making. RED PEN seems to be some commercial device or product. I've never heard it used as a tool. RED INK PEN yes. And SURF BUM for Waikiki? Are we in a time tunnel or back in "Gidget Goes Hawaiian"? Plus Pig Latin has always bored me. Who started that language anyway? And why? What is Latin about it? Give me AMAT any day instead. ANNAL reminded me of Annus Horribilis and Queen Elizabeth. Talk about dry wit. Rex, I remember the LATX version too. I do it every day. Sometimes it's better than the NYTX. I suspect today's may be too. I'll go have a look. Oink oink.

    Klazzic 7:07 AM  

    What a piece of crap puzzle. Garbage.

    Anonymous 7:23 AM  

    Count me among those who enjoyed the puzzle. Fun, and a nostalgia trip.

    Z 7:24 AM  

    I should like a PIG LATIN puzzle, but this one didn’t do it for me. I did learn that an EAGLE RAY is a fish.

    @LMS - Nah. I’m with you on the “he can pretend” wording, especially given the timeline. I would suggest that Shortz should have either returned the puzzle to Chen or put it back in the queue for a year or two once the Universal puzzle came out. Rex does have a point about credit and the relative impressions of the NYTX and the Universal puzzle. This should not have been published 4 months after the Universal puzzle. I put that on Shortz, though, not Chen. I also can’t help but notice that we avoided the “P” word today. Given that it was a Universal puzzle I wouldn’t have been surprised if that word had come up.

    BOTHA, PLO, and the IRA gives this a very violent undercurrent. Speaking of which, “we don’t want you here,” lots of anger, and lots of guns. What could go wrong?

    U. BOLT

    From yesterday:
    @M&A - “Is Ms. Burnikel darlin currently watchin our houses?” Har!
    @Doc John - Nice video.

    kitshef 7:24 AM  

    At one point I thought the theme might be monovolic words: BAHAMA, PANAMA, CHITIN, ANNAL, ENTRÉE, SURF BUM, ANNA, ORZO, CARAT, BEEMER, RED PEN, ARAL, YAP AT, DATA, YUZU (??).

    Loved the theme and the puzzle. Could have lived without both Y’KNOW and S’POSE. And a hard drive is not “essentially” a BRAIN (nor vice versa). I wonder if he meant “metaphorically” there.

    Kaylan 7:29 AM  


    Anonymous 7:41 AM  

    Not to mention Some shaky fill in my opinion. Spose, yknow AND hearya, ahh, and beemer may be acceptable to some but I don’t like it. Also, the hard drive is not the brain of the computer. The CPU is. Ok, now I’m just being crabby.

    GILL I. 8:14 AM  

    Ixnay to pig latin...or should it be igpay atinlay?
    I've had enough trouble learning (ahem) proper English and you toss me something only smarty pants argot speaking linguist created? No, gracias. Me no likey.
    The first time I heard pig latin was on a school bus. I was young and impressionable. I was also the new kid. This very pretty girl was speaking it loudly to another pretty girl. I remember asking what it was called and could I join in....All I heard was pig and no, I couldn't join in because I wasn't a club member.
    What did I like....Not much. Sorry. I think if I enjoyed mangling the language I would've enjoyed this. I just don't get it.
    If ever I'm run over by a school bus, I want @Loren to administer CPR to me.

    Z 8:16 AM  

    I SPOSE we might think of the hard drive as the “BRAIN” and the CPU as the “mind” of a computer. That is, the “BRAIN” is the storage place and the “mind” is the processes. I mean, kinda sorta. But, yeah, I wrinkled my nose as I wrote in BRAIN, too.

    I saw this on Twitter and thought I’d share:

    He licked his lips. ‘Well, if you want my opinion-‘
    ‘I don’t, ‘ She said. ‘I have my own.’


    JohnG 8:24 AM  

    Identity politics in a crossword solve? Come on, that's so weird. And, judging by the comments about the copying, actually incorrect. If you're going to throw missiles, at send them towards targets that warrant it. So ugly. But you have virtue signaled appropriately, so GJGE, I guess.

    This puzzle was hard for a Wednesday, Entree is terrible, but YKNOW is one of the worst answers I can recall in the NY Times. Because it's not a word, or a comment, anyone says, ya know?

    mmorgan 8:24 AM  

    The revealer definitely helped me — not sure I would have known what was going on, otherwise — and I liked the fact that the theme answers were all legit words or terms that bore no obvious connection to the clues.

    I guess if Rex had done “a teeny bit more research” he might have saved himself from an explosion.

    Nancy 8:26 AM  

    How clever is this??!! Finding words that become different words when PIG LATIN is applied to them! Really cool! And now Rex goes and spoils the whole thing by showing that it's been done before. Twice. Thing is: As I was working on this, I was UNDERwaying whether it had ever been done before. Because what I know is that "there is nothing new under the sun" and that "Great Minds think alike". But I hadn't done the earlier puzzles, so it didn't matter to me at all.

    I also knew that CHITIN would be the word of the day since I never heard of it and I doubt anyone else ever did either.

    One compromise on Jeff Chen's part: YKNOW is pretty bad. OTOH, "Y" is not an EASY ONE to work with and there are a lot of "Y"s in this puzzle.

    Haven't read the blog yet, but my prediction is that @Joe Dipinto has cited the song that makes 34D east to remember:

    I've come to wive it wealthily in PADUA.
    If wealthily then happily in PADUA...

    Let's go see...

    Wm. C. 8:29 AM  

    This was the WORST effin' XW puzzle I've EVER encountered. Shame on you, Shortz!

    CS 8:32 AM  

    "Jeff comments at his site: "I wrote this puzzle in late 2017, and Will accepted it in mid-2018.... painful when I opened up Mary Ellen's puzzle and got that sinking feeling." I'm not sure how "doing a teeny bit more research" would have let him see the future."

    Maybe Rex should do a little research himself.

    definitely a Thursday theme but acceptable.


    Long Walk 8:33 AM  

    PW Botha was, indeed, the last prime minister - till 1984. In that year the office of prime minister was abolished in favor of an executive presidency.

    The last apartheid-era executive president was F.W. de Klerk. It was he who was awarded the Nobel Prize with Nelson Mandela for their negotiation to end apartheid and reform the Constitution, making way for a a equality based multi-racial society and Nelson Mandela's presidency. F.W. de Klerk then served as deputy president under Mandela.

    H. Gunn 8:53 AM  

    @ LMS (5:17am) Sadly, there are days when Rex just engages recklessly in ad hominem attacks. I wish he wouldn't cross that line, but he does. The thing about ad hominems, though, is that they undermine and discredit what may otherwise have been a legitimate and well-presented critique. And making ad hominem attacks invites others to do the same, creating a more toxic atmosphere.

    Nancy 8:54 AM  

    @Z (8:16) -- Absolutely fantastic quote from "Beloved". I plan to steal it and, when appropriate, use it like crazy in the future. In fact I can hardly wait.

    Nice defense of Jeff Chen, @Loren. It's a shame that providing one was even required, though.

    The blog today is split down the middle between the people who absolutely love PIG LATIN and the people who absolutely hate PIG LATIN. Until today I'd never met anyone who hated PIG LATIN -- much less hated it so intensely. But I'm with @Lewis and others: it's wordplay and it's fun.

    Brit Solves NYT 8:55 AM  

    My least favourite puzzle of the year by some margin. I always try to find something positive... but there is really nothing I like about this one, sorry. Dull and boring theme, not consistently applied, some tenuous fill and some poor clues. Expect better from NYT puzzles. Hoping tomorrow's is better!

    Abalini 9:09 AM  

    What kind of person would malign another in such a crass and malicious (and inaccurate) way? Someone jealous? Someone pernicious? Or someone who considers himself to be a progressive, forward-thinking and fair-minded individual? I suspect Mr. Chen has too much class to respond directly to Rex's drivel and I think I've finally had enough of the constant negativity in this blog. I'll miss reading many of the wonderful comments (pointing at you LMS and Lewis), but I shan't miss the daily rant (sometimes amusing, but mostly sanctimonious). My readership - and my annual donation - are outta here. Bye y'all.

    SouthsideJohnny 9:13 AM  

    @kitshef - is “monovolic” a typo? If not, what does it mean? Googled it and got zero matches for a definition.

    pabloinnh 9:29 AM  

    YKNOW, I was going to have a waffle this morning, but then I remembered that someone else had had a waffle some time in the past, so I thought, don't bother, it's been done. I might have enjoyed it anyway though.

    YKNOW bothered me until I remembered that we never write apostrophes in the puzzle and I calmed down.

    Things made no sense until the revealer showed up (early), and what a help that was. I'm with @Nancy in thinking that real words came from pig latin usages. Pretty cool. Also wondered how "Rent" was a futuristic movie.

    And there's UBOLT again, speeding off to somewhere.

    Fun enough for me on a Wed.. Thanks JC.

    Dorothy Biggs 9:40 AM  

    Hey moderators! How does the anonymous post at 1:50AM get approved? It adds nothing to the conversation at all. It doesn't even hint at the puzzle at all. People seem to have strong reactions to Rex's blog, but shouldn't they at least say why? If you need more moderators, I'm happy to do it.

    I'm always amazed at humanity. How so many times things that some people love are hated by others. Maybe it's just the nature of a comment section like this that people tend to overstate their preferences by using hyperbole to drive home the point. For instance, I'm personally okay with PIG LATIN, but puns are the epitome of what's wrong with the world. Some people like Rex's blog (and, I guess by extension, Michael's alter-ego Rex), others despise his blog entries (and even take personal swings at him in the comments section). Some people feel like a critique of anyone's work (which would also include their thought process behind it) is a personal attack on that person's "honor,", but others just see it as a critique of one's work. Some see any kind of politics as some kind of cheap shot by Rex because, I guess, he has a blog and it's public and his political opinion doesn't agree with theirs.

    But there never seems to be a gray area. Whatever it might be, it's either the best thing ever or the worst f*ing thing they've ever seen in their lives.

    BTW, I heard a comedian the other day talking about people who say, "It's a free country." The comedian asked the question, "Have you ever noticed that people who say, 'It's a free country,' are usually always doing or saying something shitty?" In contrast, have you ever thanked someone for holding the door for you and they respond, "Hey, it's a free country!"?

    I can't help but think, (apart from puns), that the real problem with our world these days is that we feel the need to own just about everything that exists, (only in our minds, mind you) as though it was a concrete fact that our entire lives depended on. Everything becomes a hill to die on. LMS goes on about how Rex's post was some kind of referendum on JC's honor. She is entitled to her opinion (it's a free country!), but really? It's a crossword puzzle...and she's defending JC's honor like Rex had just accused him of stomping on a puppy in front of the SPCA.

    I am only saying that we maybe should all take it down about 20% and see that this kind of hyperbolical discussion does no one any good and really only contributes to the internet stereotype of divisiveness. I'm just as okay with the occasional scrap like the next person, but does everything have to be a scrap?

    Sir Hillary 9:40 AM  

    As usual, @Rex goes way over line into character assassination. He's either in Park or doing 100mph, never in between. Oh well.

    But I have to be honest -- I thought this puzzle stunk. The theme felt very stale, the goofy IHEARYA and YKNOW (!!) turned me off, and there's nary an interesting entry in the whole grid. A 78-word grid should have more zip than this. Given the constructor's usual quality, it felt like something he would have produced very early in his career.

    kitshef 9:51 AM  

    @SouthsideJohnny - not a typo, just a made-up word for words with only only one of the five vowels, but with that vowel repeated.

    @Nancy - I lead three or four botanical walks each year. I talk about CHITIN in making the distinction between plants (cell walls with cellulose), fungi (cell walls with CHITIN), and animals (no cell walls).

    ghkozen 9:55 AM  

    You are correct, and I apologize for my mistake!

    xyz 10:01 AM  

    Inaccurate clues and slang didn't help, even getting the PIGLATIN reveal early on.
    Never liked the idea of PIGLATIN. Ever, actually pretty easy audially.
    But in 2019, isn't PIGLATIN somehow racist?

    Hard isn't always good. Wholesale Joylessness for me. Too clever by half.

    CDilly52 10:02 AM  

    @KevCo 2:08. Technically (assuming one can apply “technical rules” to something as inane as Pig Latin), you would get TRON not Trent because one takes the final “sound” of the word if it is a single syllable word as the front “syllable”-here the “on” of TRON and end with the first sound-the “tr” and ad “ay,” thus the answer TRON in Pig Latin should have been ON-TRAY. And that is why this themer should have been rejected. Edit edit edit, please! All in my most humble opinion of course.

    jau 10:03 AM  

    ahh and aha in the same puzzle?? not to mention yknow and ihearya -- surely there are enough words in eng to do better than this.

    Tim Aurthur 10:18 AM  

    The problem to me is the editing process. This puzzle should have been canceled after the publication of the other two and the editors should have asked themselves how on earth does a puzzle take two years from construction to publication. The original Times puzzle under Farrar amounted to a current events test - which is why they can be really hard to do nowadays, since so many names have faded into obscurity. With all the brilliant constructors out there and all the resources to look up possible answers, it's ridiculous for any puzzle not to be fresh.

    bagelboy 10:23 AM  

    Hard, especially lower right. more of a Thursday/Friday time. But i wrote in REDPEN with any crosses!

    CDilly52 10:36 AM  

    @Nancy 8:26: I adore “Kiss Me Kate” Bellisimo! Especially “Brush Up Your Shakespeare!” I was going to comment that the lyric is exactly what popped into my head with the clue. You beat me to it. Howard Keel any day, and Ann Miller’s dancing and Bob Fosse! One of the greats of musical theatre. I am not a huge fan of the genre, but genius is genius.

    David 10:38 AM  

    Back in Jr. High (what's now called "middle school") I was studying Latin. My sister and her friends were very much into Gibberish. Other kids were into Pig Latin. It didn't interest me. I didn't/don't "hate" it, it's all just meaningless to me.

    I was having so much difficulty I uncharacteristically went and figured out the reveal. I said, "Oh. Well that's no help." Then I got "Earth Day" and said, "Oh great! Real things." That helped a lot. As for the Pig Latin, my favorite was also entrée -- because phonetics.

    8A was too short for carapace, so I had to learn a new word. Nice. Also toric. What? Cool.

    @lms, nice defense; I hadn't even realized Rex was back because there was no screed on the use of Rotgut. I must admit I was surprised one of his fill-ins would be so negative though.

    Ah, computers. I'd say the hard drive is a bookcase and the CPU is an unformed brain which awaits synaptic connections caused by the software we choose to run on it. Of course, any comparison of machine intelligence to human intelligence is a stretch to begin with; giant databases with speed-of-light searching do not intelligence make. But that's a different story. If we ever reach Kurzweil's "singularity," we'll become Borg. We are homo sapiens, after all, we can't help ourselves.

    I'm not big on the slangy stuff either, but you do what you have to do. Overall a hard Wednesday for me and I learned a few things, which is always a plus.

    pmdm 10:38 AM  

    About the puzzle: I seem to remember doing a NYT puzzle with the same theme a long time ago. At least a pig Latin theme. Don't really care. For me, each puzzle is a new puzzle I solve and then get on with (hopefully) more important things in life. And since I only solve NYT puzzles, ignorance for me is bliss.

    About the write-up: It's sad when emotion trumps accuracy, because one can nevermore trust the accuracy of the comments. The communication of one's emotions will be true, but the accuracy of other facts always suspect to someone who remember's today's comments.

    About the puzzle queue: With so many puzzle in the queus and so many submitted, it would make sense for NYT to irregularly publish a book of puzzles not printed as a daily puzzle. Hopefully it would give the NYT an economic advantage at the same time as reducing the queue time of the printed puzzles. And perhaps some good puzzles that disobey some of Will's rules could be included. And some good constructors who have become frustrated with NYT might return to the fold.

    And congratulation to LMS and Lewis for their positive and insightful comments. And to others who add similar comments.

    Rita 10:42 AM  

    I’ve used plenty of red pens and red pencils, although in my teaching days I often looked for a color that didn’t scream quite as loudly. I don’t think I’ve ever heard or used “red ink pen.” Would you also use a red lead pencil?

    nyc_lo 10:57 AM  

    SPOSE I should be happy to finish a challenging Wednesday only a couple of minutes over my average time. But mushy and obscure clueing and answers spoiled it. A hard drive is just a glorified file cabinet. And themers should be “ohhhh, I get it,” not WTF nonsense like EAGLE RAY known only to marine biologists and ichthyologists.

    Phaedrus 10:58 AM  

    I wonder if Rex included this puzzle in his “2019 puzzles constructed by women” count. Did he add 0? 1/2? 2/3rds? 1 with an asterisk?

    Inquiring minds want to know...

    OffTheGrid 10:59 AM  

    @EricNC. I've noticed that when someone uses the cute "Nuff Said" it signals close mindedness and intolerance.

    RooMonster 11:00 AM  

    Hey All !
    Is RED PEN Green Paint?

    Hate to say it, but have to agree with the folks who've said this isn't Jeff's best offering. Although PIG LATIN as a theme is fine, funny, even, I can't ABIDE the misspellings to make the theme work. UNDERWAY for wOnder? ENTREE (bad, just bad) for TrOn?? Never has a PIG LATIN word ended in EE. It's always AY. Also with y'all who thought the movie was ET and trying to figure out how he got to ENTREE. But TrOn, ugh. RONTAY, although not a real word to fit the theme, is the correct PIGGY version of Tron.

    CHITIN a big WOE. Missed a Dwarves clue opportunity for SLEEPY. Was thinking of SURFBoy first. Har. At least that provided an F.

    I usually try to find positives in puzs, this one was a bit tough to do. Sorry, Jeff. YUZU and SURGBUM are positives for @M&A!

    Did have the ole BRAIN here, though. :-)


    TJS 11:01 AM  

    Dorathy, I'm on the other side of your position. While arguing about the originality of a crossword theme may be a bit esoteric, this is a crossword blog, afterall. And OFL's comments today were very much a personal attack on the integrity of Mr. Chen. For someone as closely attuned to the availability of other crossword-centric sources of information as Rex surely is, to make such public insinuations without doing a modicum of research in Mr. Chen's defense is inexcusable. It doesn't mean I don't enjoy this forum, hell, I just welcomed Rex back a couple days ago, but when he goes out of his way to display personal bias, it does reveal an unpleasantly petulant side of his personality. Again, as always, IMO.
    Hey, John G, "GJGE" is a lot more obscure and un-inferable than "Ynow", ya know.

    John Hoffman 11:04 AM  

    Good puzzle. Yes, a bit hard for a Wednesday.

    I have no problem with repeating themes — at least every few years. I figure that if someone has to look up a theme in a database of old puzzles, then condemning the puzzle is about being fussy rather than about the direct solve experience. I thought that the solve experience was good!

    CDilly52 11:06 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Solverinserbia 11:12 AM  

    My complaint is about the fill. YUZU, CHITIN, BOTHA. And that clue for LOTUS right next to YUZU and BOTHA was brutal. I think I was about 70-100% higher than my normal time. I liked the pig Latin theme. It was fun. It was wordplay. It was new to me.

    QuasiMojo 11:16 AM  

    @Rita, I guess I was just showing my age with that remark about Red Pen. I was a student for many years back before computers were commonplace as well as an editor for several decades. I never heard that term used to describe a grading tool or even an editing tool. We used blue for that. But after considerable googling I see Red Pen is part of the language. We just said I used the pen with red ink to grade the paper. Or I made the corrections in red ink. When you go to sign your will at the lawyers office they ask you to sign it in black ink. They don't say you must use a black pen. Or else my approaching deafness has made me unable to hear what they are actually now saying. Sorry for the confusion.

    PhillySolver 11:17 AM  

    Thank you Loren. Jeff is both honorable and creative. Well, he had other good qualities, too.

    OffTheGrid 11:22 AM  

    Pig Latin is whimsical, fun, and not to be taken seriously. An earlier poster pointed out that it is only an oral "language", not written. And, crossword puzzle. I thought it was great fun and am very glad it was published as I did not see the other two.

    I would like to know Dorothy Biggs. Her post today is one of the best I've seen, certainly the best today.

    relicofthe60s 11:24 AM  

    What’s the statute of limitations on puzzle themes? Apparently it’s more than four years.

    Anonymous 11:26 AM  

    No one, even in 2017, would buy a computer with a hard drive. Or even still have the one that came with the machine. Sheesh.

    Anonymous 11:31 AM  

    Just read up Chen on The Other Cite, and he allows that WS's process works for him. Really? As has been pointed out here, predecessors managed far shorter queues with far less automation.

    Anonymous 11:37 AM  


    Well, the blackness isn't really the issue. The ink must be indelible, waterproof, and non-erasable (meaning doing so surreptitiously successfully). Ball point generally is. Bullet Proof Black in fountain pens, ditto. There are other Bullet Proof fountain pen inks, for those seeking flare.

    Bax'N'Nex 11:46 AM  

    Most of you have been here long enough to know that if the puzzle is by Jeff or Bruce Haight, Mikey will hate it before he even starts.

    Thank you, Jeff, for providing me with a little diversion from my working morning.


    albatross shell 11:57 AM  

    I agreed about YKNOW, even though it seems to often be pronounced as a non-vowel y or even a y followed by a short e, but I am all in on the "raised" comma theory now. Y'KNOW? The only point I'm hazy about is what are the missing letter(s): a, eah, ah, ou.

    I appreciated the way the puzzle made use of PIGLATIN being a phonetic not a written languge. Not only with ENTREE, but also EAGLERAY and UNDERWAY as opposed to egalray and onderway. Three of each, by the weigh.

    PIGLATIN works very well for its designed purpose. You can speak it with some practice and adults, teachers, cops, and whoever will not understand you. Written, it is easily decipherable.

    I had fun.

    And I guess Rex's criticism is justified or else Mr. Chen would not have been crestfallen when he saw the other puzzle, or written about it. Do I expect Rex to read constructor's notes before he blogs? No.

    And if you crave blaming someone, and I guess Rex would agree: blame Will.
    I do not cause I liked the puzzle.

    What's the matter with y'all, doncha like the Bowery Boys?

    Masked and Anonymous 12:10 PM  

    Whew. And M&A was about to let a pig latin runt outta the poundpen. Close call. Thanx to the Chenmeister, for takin all the @RP flamin heat, instead. But … if this puz used the same theme as another puz that used the same theme as still another puz … it's now kinda more a puz genre, right? Anyhoo -- that poor runt is still pretty day-um gun-shy, right now. Just cowers under the sofa and whimpers a lot. It's one down dog.

    staff weeject pick: NAY. How do U say that in pig latin? Confuses the M&A.
    staff fruit pick: YUZU. Hu nu?

    fave desperation: ONTRAY. Better clue: {Cafeteria chow's freeway route to the outside world??}. Honrable mention to: BEEMER.
    fave non-desperation: SURFBUM. YUZU. IHEARYA. [Sooo … shoulda been YAKNOW, to be intra-puz-consistent? Don't make m&e come down there, Shortzmeister.]

    Not one of the Chenmeister's very best, but still a lotta fun to see the pork stretched plumb outta the pig latin. So, thoinks, at least.

    Masked & Anonym007Us


    Ethan Taliesin 12:13 PM  

    I liked it a lot.

    A theme that engages as you go. No complaints at all.

    Was ready to carp about "Jackanapes" being plural (it isn't), and IMP being singular. Oh, me of little faith.

    The Pig Latin theme was sweet and the rest of the fill was generally well above average.

    YUZU was new.

    LOTUS-Eater seemed like something I maybe remember learning of years ago. Super-vaguely and maybe not even. Anyway, here's copypasta on LOTUS-EATERS

    ---"In Greek mythology the lotus-eaters, also referred to as the lotophagi or lotophaguses or lotophages, were a race of people living on an island dominated by lotus plants. The lotus fruits and flowers were the primary food of the island and were a narcotic, causing the inhabitants to sleep in peaceful apathy."

    Solid 4-star Wednesday

    johnk 12:27 PM  

    My comment exactly. Apple is at fault for referring to the part of the Mac that is not the display the "hard drive." DRIVES me azycray when I hear it. Chen and Shortz must be Mac users.

    CDilly52 12:29 PM  

    Thanks to all who defended Mr. Chen. I find personal vitriol distasteful and very “sour grape-ish” of @Rex and think Mr. Chen deserves an apology.

    I was an avid “practitioner” of Pig Latin in my youth notwithstanding how inane I find it now. Kids are kids and we did think we were pretty “oollcay” to be able to speak it “fluently.” If you want your tongue to be totally twisted though, try “Ubby-dubby” the creature of a kids’ show on PBS for “graduates” of Sesame Street” and “Electric Company.” My daughter and her besties all had it down pat and could speak quickly. Actually much more difficult than Pig Latin. You add an “ub” after each vowel sound and pronounce words in their normal order. My name becomes:
    Cubarubol Prubice Dubillubinghubam
    Carol. Price Dillingham

    I rarely disagree with our resident linguistic guru, @LMS, but I cry foul on ENTREE. It cheats the “theme” concept because it is not spelled on “Pig Latin.” I also thought the “reveal” was superfluous but that’s just one crabby old woman’s opinion. I actually killed this puzzle in for me 15:00 faster than my recent Wednesday times. This puts me at a glacial (to those pros out there) 20:15 but it seemed fast to me, LOL.

    New word alert!! A “twofer” today with CHITIN and EAGLE RAY. Beautiful fish, those! I also loved the ORZO-YUZU cross and always want to spell YUZU “ouZU” probably because of “ouzo.” Now that would be a fun cross too: ORZO-OUZO.

    Happy Hump Day everybody! I remembered to take the trash bin out today which for me is no mean feat. For over 45 years, I had never touched a trash can in the house or lugged the bin to the curb so now that I am, alas, flying solo (I loathe the word and concept of “widowhood” or “being widowed” - that’s just stupid!), I take my small victories seriously. So that’s another “twofer” for me today, record puzz time and the wheelie bin to the curb. Clearly I don’t get out enough!

    brendal 12:32 PM  

    I also do the LAT. I like to download and work old ones. How do you get "Tron"?

    brendal 12:33 PM  

    I check the grid also.

    brendal 12:37 PM  


    Preferred Customer 12:37 PM  

    I have to comment, even though the point has been made already. Pig Latin is a game, to be fun it needs to be internally consistent. The original word has to be spelled correctly when you back out of the changed one. Or the puzzle has to be consistent and none of them are spelled right. Half and half just makes it annoying. PC forever

    WhatDoing 12:48 PM  

    I thought this one was fun with just the right amount of difficulty. Struggled in some places, which I enjoy since it allows me to move on and come back to it later whether in the same sitting or later in the day. The fact that this has been done before doesn’t bother me at all. I don’t feel every puzzle needs to be fresh or mind-blowingly original ... just fun. This one fit the bill nicely.

    Shameless self promotion - if you enjoy a quick dose of a stranger’s rambling on the music of Prince and David Bowie, then pop a protein pill, punch a higher floor and head over to Leave a comment, disagree, give me food for thought. I welcome your input.

    Teedmn 1:01 PM  

    I understood this would be PIG LATIN as soon as I saw EARTH_A_ at 17A. This didn't help my solve at all and I agree with Rex that this was challenging for a Wednesday, nearly 3 minutes over my Wed. average.

    I'm with anyone who spent any time wondering how "Rent" was a futuristic movie from 1982. I even Googled it, post-solve. D'oh. TRON. For some reason, I was able to accept the homophonic quality of EAGLE RAY to regal (had to Google EAGLE RAY post-solve to see what it was), but didn't grant the same leeway (no, that isn't WEEL) to 23A or 25A (spent time scratching head on wundering when wunder became an English word. Is there a BAYOo variation? D'oh again.)

    With _____ANIC in place at 35D, I considered catatoNIC for "lifeless" but 1.) it didn't fit with ANIC in place, and 2.) ick.

    Jeff Chen, I liked your version of this and I understand the "being scooped" angst.

    Hartley70 1:05 PM  

    I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle. I found it challenging because I had trouble remembering my 1958 PIGLATIN lessons on the schoolbus. (@Gill, I hope she’s driving that bus so you don’t need CPR!) Since none of the kids ever bothered to write PIGLATIN, who’s to say it can’t be phonetically spelled? Well this theme made me feel like a kid again and that’s a good start to my day.

    This ragging on constructors for theme unoriginality is ridiculous, BTW. Eventually they will hit the brick wall of repetition and we’ll all have to make do with Sudoku. If I have only a vague idea that PIGLATIN has been used previously here or somewhere else, I couldn’t care less. I loved your waffle analogy @pabloinnh. It made me want one.

    Joe Dipinto 1:06 PM  

    Well, @Nancy, you beat me to Padua so I guess I'll head for
    Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama

    or if that doesn't pan out, then
    I'm goin' back someday, come what may, to Blue Bayou

    A pink Panama with a purple hat band

    I wasn't crazy about this puzzle but Rex's remarks about Jeff Chen are completely pathetic. Time for another vacation.

    Anonymous 1:16 PM  

    I'm not sure whether to like ENTREE (pronounced ontray, which is pig Latin for Tron) for its cleverness, or be really annoyed by it for not being proper pig Latin and therefore making for an inconsistent theme.

    I though crossing YUZU with both UBOLT (huh?) and ORZO was a bit much.

    And I suppose TORIC is a word, but I have never heard "having the properties of a torus" being called anything other than toroidal.

    oldactor 1:28 PM  

    Because I'm a pretentious A-hole, I pronounce ENTREE as AHN-TRAY. Who pronounces ENTREE as ENTRY?TRON in PG is ENTREE.

    old timer 1:56 PM  

    @Rex is @Rex, and still OFL in my book. Even when he reminds me of our Fearless Leader in the White House, as parts of today' review did.

    I liked most of the themers, and some were definitely better than the ones in the two other puzzles, which I never saw. I only do the NYT puzzle, and never the one in our local paper, which is ridiculously easy. I would do the weekender in the WSJ, but for some reason it is no longer available in our town, though the daily WSJ is.

    I call foul on EAGLE RAY though. Not, it seems, a fish from our part of the Pacific so I never saw one or heard of it in the news. ENTREE and UNDERWAY were brilliant.

    Writeovers: LSD before PCP (anyone else fall into that trap?). Sum-something before SURF BUM. Worst: I confidently write in Badminton as the national sport of South Korea. Is TAEKWONDO a sport at all, rather than a practice? DAS and UBOLT, BAHAMA and SLEEPY saved my bacon.

    I think I will never grok the difference between karat and CARAT.

    ghostoflectricity 2:05 PM  

    If anything, Rex went easy on Chen today. He's right that this is a Thursday, not a Wednesday. But further, there are all those annoying Chen-isms, where Jeff shows off just what a polymathic genius he is with his obscure knowledge of so many arcane things, and which belong in Friday, Saturday, or Sunday puzzles, if at all (YUZO- like, y'know?). But what really got my goat was ENTREE. Ok, I don't mind that it's pronounced on-TRAY in both French and English, and is a snooty word for "main course" or "special access to restricted parts of society," etc. I don't even mind that it's a themer. But I certainly DO mind that it's an outlier with no connection to the rest of the puzzle. Jeff Chen, sir: if you do a themer, follow the rules. Either your themers are all the same or they are all different. After I got ENTREE as the second themer and figured out the "pig latin" theme early on (long before I got to the revealer), I assumed that the themer endings would all be different. No such luck. You had themers all ending in -AY EXCEPT for your ENTREE, ending in EE. Foul. Major foul. Foul so FLAGRANT, so SLOPPY, so LAZY, and so CONTEMPTUOUS OF THE SOLVER that its basketball equivalent foul would result in the offending player being ejected from the game and perhaps suspended, and fined, by the league.

    Fred Romagnolo 2:05 PM  

    I've assumed Jeff Chen to be an Asian-American; if that's so, surely a lot of us can be pleased that Rex, for once, is insulting someone other than an old, white, heterosexual, non-P.C. man. Diversity is considered good.

    Anonymous 2:06 PM  

    From Rex on down, what a bunch of negative, defeatist people! Smile folks, try to enjoy life a little. Maybe be a little, or a lot, less critical of a puzzle! I for one am frankly getting sad for many of the perpetual naysayers here. Have a nice day!!

    Richard 2:17 PM  

    I hope that Michael has the wisdom and humility to publicly apologize to Jeff

    Anonymous 2:19 PM  

    Proper pig latin? Is that a thing? What does OED say? Maybe I'll look.

    OffTheGrid 2:30 PM  

    @old timer. I found this explanation.

    'Carat' vs. 'Karat' A carat is a unit of weight used to measure the size of a gemstone such as a diamond. A karat is a measurement indicating the proportion of gold in an alloy out of 24 parts, so 18K gold is 18/24 parts gold. ...

    Also "caret"-editors' mark (^). Carrot-vegetable. Har!

    Anonymous 2:32 PM  
    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
    Wanderlust 2:36 PM  

    Agree! As soon as I saw the anti-NYT rant starting, I thought about how I already miss the guest bloggers - any of them. And I also liked ENTREE because it was unusual.

    Anonymous 2:39 PM  

    These self righteous calls for an apology make me want to arfbay!

    jberg 2:43 PM  

    Just checking in, haven't read the comments -- the guy who delivers our newspapers (and whom our dog has never even thought of biting) for some reason delivered two copies of the Boston Globe and none of the NYT this morning. They finally brought a replacement sometime after noon, so I've just finished it. I liked the theme all right, even if it has been done before, but SPOSE was slangy in Tom Sawyer's time, And I HEAR YA and YKNOW needed some indication of the contraction, or something. Well, I guess Y'KNOW had that, but the other needs it to. As for BRAIN, wouldn't that be the CPU? All the hard drive does is to store DATA (keep them from roaming, as it were).

    I did like having the misdirect Giants vs. Titans in the same puzzle as Cronus, an actual Titan. And, although it confused me at the time, I liked the variation of spelling in the theme answers, e.g. ENTREE.

    OK, this probably won't even get moderated, so I'm not writing any more.

    As for TATS that's taking the whole POC thing a step too far.

    Anonymous 2:44 PM  

    @old timer:
    LSD before PCP (anyone else fall into that trap?)

    Was tempted, but I couldn't think of a college team that began D and PACERS fit the clue. PCP, in my hoary age, means Primary Care Physician.

    JOHN X 3:24 PM  

    I thought this was a pretty good puzzle.

    There seems to bit a lot of bitching and moaning about PIGLATIN because some people personally don’t like it. Nonsense. Your personal feelings have no place here. A puzzle is a problem presented before you; your mission is to solve it. You don’t get to like it or not like it, you can only succeed or fail. The same goes for the slang words.

    I agree that Rex went WAY over the line today, although I have to admit I usually find his impotent railings against the editor of the NYTX to be pretty entertaining.

    Best line:

    It's especially galling that a man's gonna get credit for a theme that two *women* thought of and executed and published before him.

    I’m laughing at you Rex not with you.

    albatross shell 3:37 PM  

    @Z I think,

    I put

    " any nay and I say a pay day anyway all at amway weigh"

    into the pig Latin translator and got back

    anyway aynay andway Iway aysay away aypay ayday anywayway allway atway amwayway eighway.

    Another problem I was had was BEEMER. I always thought it was BEAMER. Google has some differing opinions, but my conclusion from most of it was the motorcycles are BEaMERs or BEEMERs and the cars are BimMERs.

    So as clued, any of the three could be right. Good editing on that one.

    Blue Stater 4:06 PM  

    Dear God. If one were in search of clear evidence that, whatever its glorious past, the NYTXW had fallen very far from being the "greatest XW in the world," this would be an example. Full of factual and linguistic errors; riddled with aching obscurities (CHITIN? **What????**). Maybe on a Saturday, with the mistakes cleaned up. Not on a Wednesday.

    Hungry Mother 4:17 PM  

    TRON is my favorite movie, to the embarrassment of my three kids. When my wife and I drive to the Keys from Naples, we stop at the old seven mile bridge, when it’s open, to walk out to Pigeon Key. I usually spend my time looking down, looking for wildlife in the clear water. Many times I’ve seen huge Spotted Eagle Rays swimming. Quite a treat for the eyes.

    Anonymous 5:20 PM  

    The only difficulty I had was with Sacramento area around EAGLERAY, which I had never heard of, although it is clearly a real thing. The interesting note to add is that I was just a week ago in the Sea World-affiliated Discovery Cove park in Orlando, and I came within inches of an eagle ray while diving among the hundreds of tropical fish, manta ray and such that populate their artificial reef - I just thought it was a ray that happened to be spotted, not an actual different species. Second time we have done Discovery Cove in the last 3 years, and highly recommended.


    pabloinnh 5:23 PM  

    Hey, great stuff, group. Another day when the commentary is better than the puzzle. I usually like the puzzles, but I ALWAYS like the commentary.

    Thanks everybody.

    gilly 6:22 PM  

    First time posting. Thanks, Rex. I look forward to coming here each day, and I almost always get a kick out of your opinions and insights. Sometimes I read snippets aloud to my girlfriend, who doesn't even care much for puzzles. Often I learn a lot, too--but not today.

    It seems you let personal/professional/blogger/whatever competitiveness (or flat-out animosity)--stoked maybe by displeasure about your time--stain this write-up.

    Of course you know about the publishing delays at the Times, and that Jeff is just the type to be hyper-vigilant about freshness (I mean, even if you didn't know him, just look at the fill). Just as you know trying to make this about gender is ridiculous. I can sense you really care about all these points, so I'm surprised you'd deploy the first accusation and the second insinuation (that somehow Jeff is in part responsible for women not getting credit for their work). It's a bad look. And I think it hurts your credibility when you try to raise these issues legitimately in the future.

    FWIW: Hard drive/BRAIN doesn't work. ENTREE does. Jeff is a treasure. And so are you, Rex, usually. But not today.

    Lewis 6:37 PM  

    So, I posted a teaser at 6:50 this morning, and if anyone is interested in the solution, here it is.

    The two answers to put together were ANNA and PEST, which together sound like "anapest", which is a term in poetry defined as "a metrical foot consisting of two short or unstressed syllables followed by one long or stressed syllable". That is, phrases or words like BA DA BOOM or GET A LIFE.

    The strongest example from the puzzle to me (and @Kaylan) was UNDERWAY.

    Anonymous 6:55 PM  

    polymathic genius he is with his obscure knowledge of so many arcane things

    c'mon!! I let my fingers do the walking through the yellow Googles and come up with even more arcane and obscure useless data. that's the only thing Google is good for, despite what the Googleplex says.

    Patricia Hughes 7:35 PM  

    Rubric worked for 5 down until it didn't. Back to grading final papers.

    Ethan Taliesin 7:39 PM  

    I wish (as a current Marylander)the puzzle had included the clue "Daring," with the answer of course being OLDBAY.

    Birchbark 8:19 PM  

    @Lewis (6:37) -- Thanks for the solution to your FUT. I solved the puzzle late today, tuckered out, and would have tried (almost certainly without success) to figure out your answer after leaving here. Very clever -- thanks for posting the solution.

    There seems to be a finite set of crossword-friendly Pig Latin words, judging by the three puzzles. Part of what is doubtless concerning to Mr. Chen here is that not only the same theme, but many of the same answers ran recently in other puzzles.

    I care not a whit for the editor-baiting/editor-championing that floats in and out of this blog. But if you're Mr. Shortz, I imagine you would want your team to do better diligence around theme + answer recent duplicates in other markets.

    Anonymous 8:50 PM  

    P.W. Botha was by all accounts an evil person. That shouldn’t preclude him from being a crossword answer. So they found an alternative clue this time. Next time they probably won’t. Michael Sharp is almost single-handedly ruining the NYT crossword. Go away Rex review another puzzle please.

    Anonymous 9:16 PM  

    Like an inner tube: TORIC?
    I got the whole thing (not without a struggle), but what the hell is a toric?

    Anonymous 11:11 PM  

    Entree -> on-tray -> tron

    Anonymous 11:16 PM  

    DOS is loaded from the hard drive of a PC, so the hard drive can indeed be considered the “brain”.

    jae 11:28 PM  

    @Dorothy Biggs - Well said.

    Z 11:46 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Z 11:52 PM  

    @anon9:16 - TORIC is the adjectival form for TORus. This is not to be confused with a torii. Despite my deepest druthers, the plural of torus is not toropodes.

    I think everyone who used ad hominem today used it incorrectly. Rex may have been in error, but saying “person A did X and X is bad” is not an ad hominem attack. An ad hominem attack would be “We know that X is bad because Person A supports X.”

    Jon 11:57 PM  


    Unknown 11:58 PM  

    I think everyone missed the ball on 53 across. The key question is not what-the-heck is an EAGLE RAY? The real question is what is a REAGLE (the non-pig-latin word from which the answer is derived) and what does it have to do with the clue "Magnificent"? I think it is a Jeff Chen hommage to Merl Reagle, who constructed a puzzle every Sunday for the San Francisco Chronicle for 30 years.

    Anonymous 11:19 AM  

    If anyone still cares about yesterday and was not already aware, the 53A pig-latinized word clued as Magnificent is 'regal', which along with ENTREE brings the count to 2 homophones among the PL words. Maybe they should have had (var.) in the clues to indicate their straying from the strictest interpretation of ig-pay atin-lay, but when it comes to Thu-Fri puzzles, the more challenging the better.


    Kuhan 6:49 AM  

    PW Botha was indeed the last PM, as SA adopted a new constitution, eliminating the position of Prime Minister.

    Burma Shave 11:39 AM  


    in your BEEMER got UNDERWAY;
    BOTHA you CHIMED in for fun,
    I S'POSE SEW eager to OUTLAY.

    --- IRA TORIC

    spacecraft 11:40 AM  

    Tough but educational. Never heard of YUZU--which will not stand a Scrabble challenge. Nor CHITIN. Nor an EAGLERAY, and shame on me. I should know ALL things EAGLE!

    This theme is clever in that you wind up with real words, so it's not just igpay atinlay. BTW, it was amusing to read about KIDS trying to sneak something past PARENTS. With me, it was the other way around! And no, that didn't work either. I could parse "ivorce-day."

    The issue of originality has been raised yet again; for me this is back-burner stuff. It's a nit to pick. And boy, do we ever have the woild's champeen nitpicker, YKNOW?!?

    I do have some fill issues; one TV network is very nearly one too many. Two is over the line. (Count also "TV" itself, thankfully not here today). Other wince-worthies: NFLGAME and the TO of NEARTO. I guess I'm a bit of a nitpicker myself, but at least mine don't read like I hate the constructor.

    DOD is ENYA. This was not an EASYONE (non-themed "Y!"), so there are triumph points. Can't give out an EAGLE despite its appearance: birdie.

    rondo 1:02 PM  

    Anyone watch Jeopardy yesterday? PIGLATIN was one of the categories and "What is ASHTRAY?" was the first correct response. So, top-of-mind an EASYONE.

    If not for that clue, REDPEN = green paint.

    The next 5 months or so promise a slew of NBC and CBS NFLGAMEs. Does that make UBOLT away?

    An EASYONE, but not 6 minutes. Ever.

    rainforest 1:58 PM  

    Oh, man, I was really hoping for a continuation of the guest bloggers. Instead, HE's back, and he hasn't lost his vitriol. Well, what did I expect?

    I expected a nice puzzle, and Jeff Chen provided it. I actually had to get to the revealer to see what was going on, even though I had ASHTRAY in place and was all ??? about that one. Now, PIG LATIN may not be an ideal theme, but I liked that the answers were actual words, and that ENTREE and UNDERWAY catered to pronunciation. Fun with PIG LATIN. By the way, hard to believe that some people just *hate* it, but, as M&A says, da bustagut, or some such".

    Same with Y'KNOW, which is what people actually say, and which is written in lots of books (notable a Wally Lamb book, where it is annoyingly ubiquitous). If you didn't like it, I HEAR YA, but lower the volume.

    Good Wednesday, Jeff, and also to the Syndie brethren and sisteren.

    leftcoast 2:12 PM  

    Relatively easy, especially for a Jeff Chen puzzle. He can be quite clever and tricky, and he is that here, though surprisingly solver-friendly.

    Didn't take long to get to the PIGLATIN reveal. ENTREE's lone deviation from the others themers required a second look. UNDERWAY left me wondering.

    CHITINA, SPICY, and LOTUS needed second looks, too.

    Finally, S'POSE, IHEARYA', and Y'KNOW are a slangy mini-theme, and OK, I s'pose.

    Anonymous 2:29 PM  

    From Syndication Land

    @rondo Yes, we watched Jeopardy last night and were having fun speaking pig latin! Then this puzzle appears and is such a coincidence! Fun puzzle for me.

    Diana, LIW 3:47 PM  

    It was easy, until it wasn't, and then it finished and was easyish again. Ixnay?

    No, @R, don't watch the game shows - and it shows in my dearth of trivia, which I only get through osmosis via the paper and NPR. And puzzle upon puzzle in anthologies.

    Started in the bottomish, so got the theme quickly.

    Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for no particular place to start but..
    Only have a few tests left, but yesterday DOCTOR!!! said I should live until at least he retires. So yay!

    leftcoast 6:21 PM  

    Probably mentioned in comments way above, but Jeff Chen on his blog explained what happened to the scheduling of this, his puzzle. He wasn't happy. And, Rex, ya gotta sympathize.

    leftcoast 7:23 PM  

    Uh...CHITIN, of course, not CHITINa, an automatic typo naming an old mining town in Alaska that intrigued me, having lived in the state for a number of years.

    Unknown 10:21 PM  

    53a too.

    Unknown 10:25 PM  

    I was so bent out of shape about Tron that I found this blog for the first time. No joke.

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