Upscale Swiss ski resort / WED 9-11-19 / 2000s Fox drama set in Newport Beach / One of three figures carved on Georgia's Stone Mountain / Onetime pop star Donny

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Constructor: Ned White

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (5:00)

THEME: Pain in the ass? — how even to describe it ... theme clues are idioms following pattern "___ in the ___" where the second blank clues the whole answer, and the first blank clues  an answer that can be found *inside* the answer, in circled squares:

Theme answers:
  • HIRED PERSON (17A: Bird in the hand?)
  • CATTLE FODDER (24A: Snake in the grass?)
  • MARS, FOR INSTANCE (38A: Come up in the world?)
  • SPA ACCESSORY (50A: Throw in the towel?)
  • PERFORATION (61A: Ace in the hole?)
Word of the Day: GSTAAD (33D: Upscale Swiss ski resort) —
Gstaad (/kstɑːdɡz-/German pronunciation: [kʃtaːt]) is a town in the German-speaking section of the Canton of Bern in southwestern Switzerland. It is part of the municipality of Saanen and is known as a major ski resort and a popular destination amongst high society and the international jet set. The winter campus of the Institute Le Rosey is located in Gstaad. Gstaad has a population of about 9,200 and is located 1,050 metres (3,445 feet) above sea level. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is one of the worst puzzles I've ever done. Just let that previous sentence sink in. Conceptually, it actually has promise. [___ in the ___] where the first blank is literally in the second blank. OK. Do not like the non-consecutive circled squares, seems a bit loose, but fine. But if you're going to do that, you're actual answer, the one in the grid, Has To Be A Thing. So let's see. HIRED PERSON? Well, right away, not a thing. Not off to a good start. CATTLE FODDER? Uh, closer, but the only fodder phrase I recognize, really, is "cannon fodder." This one is at best wobbly. OK, next— ... ... this is where the wheels came well and completely off for me: MARS, FOR INSTANCE??? FOR INSTANCE? Where I do even begin with this mess? First, the idea that "Mars" is an OK answer for "the world"??!?!?!!???!?!?!?! But then, FOR INSTANCE? What is FOR INSTANCE even doing in the answer?? How is anythingFORINSTANCE a legit answer in any puzzle anywhere at any time. I put in that first "S" (from GSTAAD, LOL, whaaaat?), as my very last letter in the answer, and I just stared at MARS FOR INSTANCE like "I don't know what I'm looking at." Most of "arise" is not even "in" MARS, it's "in" FOR INSTANCE. This answer, on its own, is an atrocity. Just ... I resent even having to explain any of this. I resent that no one inside the NYTXW is telling the person in power "you Must be joking with this." We haven't even gotten to SPAACCESSORY, woof. Another non-thing. Then there's PERFORATION, which is, to its credit, in fact, a word. Finally. Hard to imagine executing a theme worse than this. Stunning.

And we haven't even gotten to the fill yet—it stinks. STS RANDR ATNOON HAR ODDMAN (!?!?!), SDS XIS SNERD STET INIGO ANAT etc. But the thing that moves this puzzle from bad to outright offensive is the gratuitous celebration of the slavery-supporting traitor at 64A: One of three figures carved on Georgia's Stone Mountain (LEE). So... of all the famous LEEs in the world, in the history of the world, you not only went with the only one to lead an armed rebellion against this country in support of slavery, but you did so in a clue that is literally about honoring / commemorating that racist *&$%. So while people out in the real world are busy tearing down statues commemorating these m&$##$#f*$&ers, the editor of this here crossword puzzle is busy making sure we remember Dixie. Stop honoring racists. Stop even referring to them in your puzzles if you don't have to. If you do have to (which you clearly didn't here), then give them the clues they deserve—don't Go Out Of Your Way to flaunt the fact that they are memorialized by people mad 'cause the South lost and desperate to convince themselves and the world that the "War of Northern Aggression" had anything to do with honor.

Harper LEE. Bruce LEE. LEE Majors. Rickie LEE Jones. Jamie LEE Curtis. So many. So many. And hardly any of them led a war to preserve slavery. So, to sum up—the theme is botched to the point of malpractice, the fill is well on the stale side, and the puzzle essentially appears to be shouting "MY IDOL!" at the leader of a racist rebellion. Cool cool. Bye.

    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


    Joaquin 12:07 AM  

    Did anyone here NOT expect Rex to come unglued? And though I often argue with Rex, there's no disagreement today.

    RAD2626 12:42 AM  

    Rex’ PAIN in the ASS. “HaUNcheS”. (Sorry, I don’t do circles).

    Puzzle was okay. DNF in a stupid mistake OpICLEAN.

    George NYC 12:52 AM  

    I have not made a comment here in quite a while, but I am stunned at how inept and offensively unpleasant to "solve" this puzzle is. And on the anniversary of 9/11, a date that will forever call out for some sort of acknowledgement of what happened to this city, to this country, to this world. This is all the New York Times, the so-called paper of record, from whose offices the falling towers could be seen, can come up with when a respectful remembrance or at least a distracting diversion might reasonably be called for?

    jae 1:05 AM  

    Medium-tough. I took more than a few nanoseconds (@m&a) too make sense of the theme after I finished, which may be my fault? The MARS answer seems a tad off. This one really didn’t do it for me, or pretty much what Rex said.

    ...and “Stagger Lee” is a fine song.

    Unknown 1:18 AM  

    You forgot NEYO....NEYO???

    Anonymous 1:32 AM  

    I would disagree with it being the worst I've ever done. But it's close. I thought yesterday's puzzle was bad, but then this one said, "hold my beer" and here we are. What a mess.

    Music Man 1:37 AM  

    I agree. I thought it was a bad puzzle too. No enjoyment at all.

    zevonfan 2:22 AM  

    Okay, so I didn't understand the theme when I solved this monstrosity.

    Even after reading Rex's explanation, I'm still not sure I understand the theme.

    Does Diary of a Crossword Fiend offer "Razzies" to go along with their ORCA Awards? If not, they ought to. This puzzle is a shoo-in.

    While I'm usually amused by Rex's frequent microagressions by NYT clues - I agree it's extremely tone-deaf to run a Robert E. Lee clue on 9/11. Though I hate to tell you Rex, there's a lot of residents (like myself) in the Deep South who are hardly racists or right-wingers who still remain fascinated by the history of the Civil War era... even if it was beyond a horrific part of our history... but feel free to paint us all with a broad brush.

    Marc Kwiatkowski 2:43 AM  

    Agree with OFL. Theme was atrocious. Fill was atrocious. ZAHN crossed with NEYO? LEONA and YATES? People should know who INIGO Jones is; Mortimer SNERD, not so much. And I agree that the LEE clue was crap. Even if you wanted to clue it as Robert E. there are better ways than an obscure monument to the "Lost Cause"; victor at Manassas, loser at Gettysburg, son of "Light Horse Harry"...

    chefwen 2:52 AM  

    Where’s my Tylenol? This one just gave me a headache. I got it, then I didn’t, got it, I think, no I don’t. Even after Rex’s explanation I’m still confused.

    Going to toss this one into the circular, have another glass of wine, go to bed and dream of a better puzzle tomorrow.

    Anonymous 3:07 AM  

    This was not a good crossword puzzle.

    JOHN X 3:24 AM  

    Ha ha I gotta admit I love to watch Rex lose his shit over little puzzle words, especially if it’s American history of which he has little understanding of prior to 1976.

    This was a pretty good Wednesday puzzle. I’m sorry it tripped some of you up. We can’t all be winners.

    Also, what’s with these ten-part reCAPTCHA tests?

    chefwen 4:08 AM  

    Go blue John X.

    Unknown 4:31 AM  

    In defense of the theme, which I actually quite enjoyed, the reason the solutions aren't actual things is because they're clues for the last word in each phrase, whereas the circled words are answers to the first word in each phrase. An apt but uncreative name for the theme would be answers and questions, because each themed clue contains both. Hence why I think "for instance" is more than fine because it's a common phrase used in clues.

    Roth 4:41 AM  

    Agree about Lee, about stupid theme answers, and about near-crosses like YATES with LEONA, which if not a Natick, is a Framingham (the next town over).

    Rique Beleza 5:14 AM  

    Washington and Jefferson were slave owners who are memorialized in stone. Lee was a brilliant, and reluctant, general who should not be censored out of U. S. History by hysterical, petty, demi-professors with an axe to grind.

    Bageleater 6:14 AM  

    I often find Rex to be overly critical and demanding of the Times’ little word puzzles, but today he is on target. The theme answers are terrible and another Lee would have been better.

    BarbieBarbie 6:20 AM  

    I stopped reading this review at “HIRED PERSON? Not a Thing.” OK, maybe in some small burb-y, we-go-to-the-mall-to-get-outdoors kind of place where nobody works with their (hi @LMS) hands, it is not a Thing. And actually it’s not a Thing, it’s a Person, and yes it is too. Don’t be so arrogant, @Rex. Your experience is way limited. The assistant to the modern farmer is the hired-person. (The guy with a few more decades on him still has a hired-man.) File for next time.

    amyyanni 6:22 AM  

    Not a lot of fun, sadly.😣
    Spike Lee, Ang Lee, Lee Remick......

    Lewis 6:26 AM  

    I chuckled at the randomness of MARS FOR INSTANCE, and when I finally got it, I was selfishly glad for it, because its randomness made it tough to suss out, which deepened the puzzle's bite, and I live for bite (if it's fair, and it was).

    Any puzzle that makes me buckle (down) and chuckle (aloud) gets a thumbs up from me. Thanks, Ned!

    BarbieBarbie 6:28 AM  

    Now that I’ve read the comments up thru 6:14, I disagree with most of the world, I guess. I found this puzzle crunchy, for a Wednesday, and crunchy is fun. The theme made me go Huh and helped with the solve. It was a good puzzle. Cute to have SPRY and AGILE opposite to each other.

    @GeorgeNYC, in my view it would have been trivializing the events of 911 to memorialize them in something silly like a crossword puzzle. Try reading the actual journalism part of the paper for that.

    Anonymous 6:48 AM  

    I knew YATES right away because I've seen The Blues Brothers enouh to have most of the dialogue memorized, and can hear Dan Ackroyd turning around and saying "Of course, the old favorite, Rowdy Yates," as they launch into the theme from Rawhide.

    Danielle 7:03 AM  

    Let’s not forget the best Lee option: Nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee.

    I think I could read the theme explanation forever and still not get it. Confusing, convoluted puzzle.

    AnnieMaine 7:05 AM  

    I follow you every day, but was some shocked when you wrote 'you're' instead of 'your' in today's critique. But I guess it's nit picking because I so like your analysis of the puzzles. Doing these puzzles, as an 82 year young lady is what I call my 'brain' aerobics -- so thank you for all you do.

    Hilary0 7:10 AM  

    what Rex said

    kitshef 7:32 AM  

    A puzzle that really earned the scorn being heaped on it.

    The first part of today's review by Rex, down to the Paul Simon video, was EXACTLY what I was thinking today, except that CATTLE FODDER was OK for me. MARS FOR INSTANCE and SPA ACCESSORY are flat out poor as themers.

    Then I would add GSTAAD and SIS (as clued) to his list of bad fill, but exempt both HAR (for obvious reasons) and SNERD from the hit list.

    But I'm not bothered by LEE nor its clue. Robert E. Lee, like Julius Rosenberg, Roger Taney, and Jack the Ripper, is acceptable FODDER for crosswords.

    pabloinnh 7:43 AM  

    Agree with OFL that the MARS answer is borderline at best and unacceptable at worst, but any puzzle with HAR is still a pretty good puzzle, ask M&A or Roo.

    Also agree that the MARS offering was somewhere between borderline and unacceptable, and PERFORATION took home gold. Others, big meh.

    Some people knew NEYO and LEONA, I knew YATES and SNERD. That's the way the world goes round, to quote John Prine.

    And I think a much better clue for 64A would have been "most interesting Red Sox pitcher ever".

    Not The Worst Puzzle I Ever Did", and I learned some stuff, so thanks for that NW.

    Luther Kinney 7:48 AM  

    How is a towel a spa "accessory"? More of a supply, no?

    Unknown 7:54 AM third through, I threw it in trash pile! Just awful.

    JohnG 8:01 AM  

    Salty Rex is the best Rex. Thanks for all you do. I knew this puzzle was going to drive you crazy and you are right to have been driven to this state. Always appreciate your comments.

    Anonymous 8:06 AM  

    Rex’s rant ....we all need to speak up...
    I am still lost with the Mars thing..
    Lee jeans...I thing Rowdy Yates wore them..

    Annabelle 8:08 AM  

    The puzzle doesn’t honor Robert. E. Lee. The clue is neutral and factually correct. Grow up.

    mmorgan 8:09 AM  

    Well... I guess I see Rex’s point, but I enjoyed this a lot. I hate hate hate puzzles with circles but I ignored them and had a good time. I thought the clueing was clever and crunchy. When I finished, I went back and noticed the wordplay and saw it was even better than I’d realized. But mostly I got a real kick from the exceptionally fun clueing.

    Sorry so many are so annoyed at this one, but I’m a happy solver today.

    Never even noticed Lee.

    David 8:12 AM

    Anonymous 8:17 AM  

    It was like living in one person's reality. You needed to be a mental health worker, not a puzzle solver.

    QuasiMojo 8:19 AM  

    Would you have preferred LEE Harvey Oswald?

    I thought Rex would go to PIECES over ARMS.

    Strange, dull and absurd puzzle. Does anyone order a HARD DRINK? "Make mine hard, Otto."

    Plus I'd have rather seen that other infamous hotelier who didn't pay taxes, LEONA Helmsley.

    Donny OSMOND is still performing regularly. So "former" seems a bit premature.

    GILL I. 8:31 AM  

    How did I dislike thee...let me count the ways: First, I caught on to your theme at the beautiful HERON...but why HIRED PERSON? I got that hand is a PERSON but man....what a stretch. I saw what you were doing - again, at CATTLE FODDER. You give me the ADDER snake and I get that grass is FODDER. So I sit back and think that the idea is very clever but it seemed tortured to me.....and.... old (sorry).
    If Ned had upped the ante a bit with his cluing and dang, some of his entries like HARD DRINKS for Screwdrivers which I thought was pretty bad, I might have enjoyed this a tad. P.S. I know what a screwdriver is - having had a few in my prime. But...I'd not consider it a hard one. Maybe a good scotch. Then you've got oldy moldy SNERD YATES - hell, you even have retired Paula ZAHN (though I liked her).... PUTT putt? Pffft.
    @George NYC...I'm glad you stopped in. I think you were one of the original posters from when @Rex started this blog. I used to peek in but was too scared to ever post. Anyway, I don't think there could ever be a puzzle worthy to be printed after the 9/11 catastrophe. It would be useless and impossible to construct. These as whimsy distractions - a few minutes or perhaps an hour of entertainment. I always want my money's worth. I want amusement and a smile. Today's was a meh for me only because I thought it failed in its attempt to be clever. It should have been clever.
    PS not comment on my sentence fragment, please. I don't care!

    Mark 8:39 AM  

    I agree with Rex I’m almost all counts. Very offended by LEE related to its clue. However, out here in cattle ranch country, ranch hands are often referred to as hired hands or hired men. So changing it to hired person to be gender neutral is understandable and is most definitely “a thing.”

    Anonymous 8:41 AM  

    Yep, this puzzle, in its current state, is just... bad.

    xword info has this to say: "With several more rounds of rework, improvement, and finessing, this could have been a solid offering."

    mathgent 8:42 AM  

    I liked it. Granted that MARSFORINSTANCE is clunky, the other themers are pretty good. Good variety in the fill.

    Donny Osmond is no longer a pop star, but he and Marie are still performing at the Flamingo in Vegas.

    INIGO is back. Haven't met up with him for some time. Like characters in Harry Potter and The Simpsons, I know him only from crosswords.

    OffTheGrid 8:44 AM  

    I worked from the top down and had CATTLEFODDER early and wondered how Snake in the grass fit. "Oh! I bet there's a snake name hidden in CATTLEFODDER. This might be fun." Then I saw the circles and was quite disappointed that my hand was being held. The solve went rapidly downhill (like at GSTAAD) from there. This puzzle had a 50D.

    Sir Hillary 8:45 AM  

    I didn't mind this one so much, although MARSFORINSTANCE is pretty crappy.

    @Rex forgot to be triggered by the gun-totin' clue for ARMS, especially since the NRA knifes down diagonally into the first letter of that entry. I guess he was too busy finding Twitterati posts with maximum, you know, snark.

    @GeorgeNYC -- Your argument is well-stated, but I disagree. There's a difference between respectful remembrance and having something shoved in your face. I fear a 9/11 tribute in something as trifling as a puzzle would feel like the latter. I know it would to me.

    Bobo 8:45 AM  


    Anonymous 8:48 AM  

    I'm not asking for LEE to be censored out of history. I agree with Unknown 5:14 AM that Rex seems to be asking for this.

    But I would like to see the NYT crossword more fully reflect the diversity of the world. LEE is an enormously common name and there are so many other people with the name LEE that can used in this clue without repeating another white guy from American history.

    Anonymous 8:59 AM  

    Yes, there are many way so to clue Lee. In fact, Lee has been a NYT Xword answer ten times in 2019 and been clued for the general twice. Seems about right. Years ago the percentage of RE Lee clues was a lot higher and no one whined.

    Woke Guy 9:04 AM  

    @Unkown 5:14- We’ll come for Washington and Jefferson once the confederate generals are vanquished. It’s incremental. Start with the low hanging fruit.

    Suzie Q 9:05 AM  

    This certainly was different and different can be good. Even without the unusual way the theme was executed it still had some difficult moments. My favorite clue was for Mick.
    With so much material for an interesting review it is a shame so much was wasted on Lee. It's history and it happened whether you like it or not. Our past is full of horrible events that cannot be undone.
    I still do not understand "Mars, for instance". Why would I say this?
    I have no idea who Leona Lewis is but I jumped right up at Rowdy Yates so I guess it evened out.

    Joel Palmer 9:10 AM  

    I finished it and STILL didnt get the theme

    Cato Rosenbaum 9:11 AM  

    Didn’t realize that the NYT was the harbor for history and that if LEE and other racists were stricken from its pages, that they’d be forgotten forever!

    CDilly52 9:13 AM  

    I’m neutral, but I just don’t get the MARS answer. All the other ones make sense. I get that ARISE is to “come up” (sort of) but is MARS the “world?” Particularly since the clue is “Come up in the world,” “the” world usually means our world, Earth. What am I missing here? Didn’t hate it, and actually liked the theme concept but the execution was a bit unpolished. Pretty easy and not as odd as yesterday. That’s absolutely all I can say. Onward!

    Amie Devero 9:13 AM  

    The theme is a common pattern in cryptics where the clue uses a preposition to signal the bifurcation of the main solution with a "buried" word within it. But this execution was appalling.
    I also have another question that I just can't figure out. And Google didn't help. STS for Bourbon and Beale? Huh? What basic knowledge am I clueless of here?

    Zwhatever 9:13 AM  

    INIGO crossing GSTAAD seems like a classic natick to me. I got it right because INIGO Jones has been known to appear in crosswords before, but yeesh.

    To put what Rex said about LEE more simply:
    Stop even referring to them in your puzzles if you don't have to.
    If you do have to then give them the clues they deserve
    There are tens of options for LEE that aren’t the traitor mythologized by racists.
    Stop honoring racists, even implicitly.

    If you disagree with any of that maybe start with the article @david referenced which happens to be linked to other good material. I think the clue was probably thought of as “neutral.” It is not.

    @zevonfan - I am wondering what Rex wrote is using a “broad brush.” His observations seemed pretty specific to me.

    I agree with @barbiebarbie that a 9/11 tribute is not really an appropriate topic for a crossword puzzle.

    Bruce R 9:15 AM  

    I usually find Rex to be a bit thin skinned (e.g., calling a joke lame offends handicapped people) but I agree with Rex this time. The clue references a monument in honor of a racist traitor.

    Zwhatever 9:15 AM  

    @Arnie D - STreetS.

    Nancy 9:16 AM  

    Thank heavens for @mathgent reappearing today and liking this puzzle. Happy to read @mmorgan's praise, too. Sometimes I read the reactions on this blog and think I'm losing my mind. I really enjoyed this puzzle -- the tiny little circles, which I normally despise, notwithstanding. Today they served a fun and crunchy purpose and I thought that every single theme answer was fair. MARS may not be our world, but it's a world. A HIRED PERSON is often referred to as a "hand". Grass is indeed CATTLE FODDER and a PERFORATION is a kind of hole. Yes, there are some problems in the puzzle, but they're not in the theme clues and answers.

    Problems: 1) I agree with @Quasi. There are SOFT DRINKS and there is HARD LIQUOR. But no one would ever say "I'm going to pour myself a hard drink."

    2) There are many too many proper names and they're mostly clued terribly. Like @Quasi, I would have clued LEONA with the [famously] awful Helmsley woman, not some "Avatar" singer. And there are plenty of famous YATESes in real life without resorting to some obscure character role in an old TV Western.

    But put all that aside. The tricky double-A cross of GSTAAD with SPAACCESSORY drove me crazy for a while and was worth the price of admission. I had a lot of fun despite the proper names and enjoyed all the thinking I was required to do.

    sidneyellenwade 9:17 AM  

    I love the name Inigo, so I was very happy to see it in the puzzle. And "hired hand" is a real thing. And "you're" was an unfortunate slip-up. It is fun to see Rex come unglued, however.

    Anonymous 9:20 AM  

    I start each day with the NYT and coffees, hoping when I get to the crossword (I save it for last) it will provide a boost and improve my mood for the day. Unfortunately, this puzzle was so awful, it brought me down in such a way, with its mix of obscurity and modernity, as to make me cancel my subscription. Do you agree that the puzzle should be positively educational and entertaining? This was neither; it is deleterious to intellect and sensibility. Construction and editing were exceptionally bad. Such a shame.

    xyz 9:23 AM  

    Completely and utterly unlovable, nothing to recommend this mangled, twisted poor excuse for a fun pastime.

    The PC-indignance in here is becoming deafening, mostly from Anonymous snipers. UGH, worse than this puzzle.

    JB is on it 9:28 AM  

    I’ve been doing the NYT puzzle on a daily basis for about five years now, and if this isn’t the worst piece of garbage that they have published in that timeframe, then it is definitely in the top three. The theme contributes absolutely nothing and the rest of the content is trivia-laden to the point of absurdity.

    If Rex is going to go berserk at every mention of the NRA or some other perceived (or invented) trigger, perhaps he should explain why he routinely gives vulgar, n-word spewing, glock-worshipping misogynistic RAPPERS a free pass. Since Rex considers Dr. Dre to be worthy of inclusion, perhaps he could post a few of his songs in his daily commentary (see for example I suspect that Shortz drops in an NRA reference periodically just to troll and trigger OFL.

    Nice to see Stagger Lee presented as a recommended alternative - it is of course a song about a guy who cheats at dice and gets himself shot by a “blue steel forty-four”, which is much more palatable fare.

    Gulliver Foyle 9:29 AM  

    Mars would be "the" world only to a Martian.

    jberg 9:32 AM  

    Quick quiz: What’s the name of the poem with the lines: “Home is the place where when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” Now make it gender-neutral.

    I agree it’s better if we take the long theme answers as clues to words in the clues—but I’d like to have had a hint that that was going on.

    CDilly52 9:47 AM  

    Hi @Gill I. One more comment about tomatoes-markets really, from yesterday. The best time I have ever had in Europe was in Spain and Portugal, Sevilla especially. The markets!! The produce! The people! Your comment brought back such good memories. Several times we had prawns the size of your hand if you form it into a letter “C.” Grilled on the street and served up with a side of piri piri. I swear my husband and I ate nothing but street food for at least two weeks! Met the kindest, most generous Interesting folks too. Thanks for the memory!

    davidm 9:51 AM  

    I couldn’t finish this, which hasn’t happened in a while. I had HIRED PERSON, but simply couldn’t understand how it related to the clue. I could see HERON in the answer, but … for some reason, the penny just wouldn’t drop. I also had ADDDER and PASS in those uncompleted answers, and I got the point of them, but … meanwhile I got hung up on some little things and just basically threw in the towel. I think if the penny had dropped with HIRED PERSON, I would have finished. Because, reading Rex’s explanation, I see! With the exception of MARS FOR INSTANCE, which is dubious, I think all of themers are great, particularly PERFORATION. Liked ZESTS, the rarely used (in my experience) secondary meaning of the word ZEST. I don’t get Rex’s complaint about ODD MAN. And, yeah, LEE … but now that I see what I missed, I think this puzzle is quite clever.

    Shawn 9:51 AM  

    This puzzle is/was objectively awful and tiresome to solve. Zero. Fun. INIGO crossing GSTAAD? A guy I’ve never heard of (who died in the 17th century) crossing a town whose name looks like a prescription drug sold on one of those fancy TV ads. Cool.

    Unknown 9:53 AM  

    So are Genghis Khan or Attila the Hun also verboten as answers to clues? Get over yourselves.

    This Recent Unpleasantness 10:00 AM  

    I live in the south. There are streets here named after Stonewall Jackson and even the chief rebel himself, Jefferson Davis. My city even has the most garish statue ever erected of the founder of the KKK, perched out overlooking a major interstate welcoming people to our fine city. The war is not over here and has been simmering since about 1866. It is indeed, to some, the War of Northern Aggression, not because of any factual evidence, but it's what most of those believers have been taught.

    All of that said, Rex wasn't advocating the censoring of these idiots from US history as one commenter above claimed. He is merely saying that there are countless OTHER ways to clue LEE than this one. One of Rex's pet peeves is the use of the NRA in puzzles. That is different than LEE. The NRA can really only be clued the one way because there is really only one NRA famous enough to be anything else. It's a sh*t show of an organization that doesn't need to be in a puzzle at all...THAT's Rex's beef with NRA. But here, LEE is an okay entry that can be in puzzles easily enough, but it can be clued 100s of other ways.

    Living in the south I see first hand how people come to be okay with the normalcy of idolizing these men. Rex (or anyone else) is not advocating censorship or "writing them out of US history," they (we) are just advocating that they would be remembered for who they were. These were not honorable men. They chose the wrong side of history. Over a half a million people died in that war for a cause that was astoundingly bad. For as conflicted as Lee might have been to show his allegiance to Old Virginia, he should have seen that a war like that was only the exclamation point to the fact that his kinsmen had slaves. Slaves.

    Sure the other founders had them too...and that also should never be forgotten.

    Mr. Benson 10:01 AM  

    I thought maybe part of the gimmick was theme answers that read more like clues than answers (I wouldn't bat an eye at "Mars, for instance" cluing "planet" or "orb" or "Roman god" or something), but... no, probably not, given PERFORATION at the end.

    Have to agree with Rex here. This was a dumpster fire of a puzzle. I, too, ended with the S in MARS/GSTAAD and wondered "what the hell am I looking at?"

    No Man 10:04 AM  

    People like Rex are why Trump is going to get re-elected.

    Way to go, Rex. Keep sermonizing. It's adorable.

    TJS 10:07 AM  

    It sucked.
    @lewis liked it, continuing his positive comment run of 100%.

    Newboy 10:11 AM  

    AM I an AAGILE PRO or HAS IT just become time for some R AND R? AM I a fan of patting my head while rubbing my belly or other multi-level activity? Actually just a geriatric solver who enjoyed Ned’s gimmick. Suspect that comments above reflect either love or hate. Now to see why Rex thought it harder than I and what others responded.

    RooMonster 10:21 AM  

    Hey All !
    HAR, on MARS FOR INSTANCE. Kind of a hokey answer. Can lead to many other generalities, Clue:Soda, A:PEPSI FOR INSTANCE. Wasn't the best answer.

    Did enjoy the _ in the _ theme. First themer I got was PERFORATION, and was thinking the non-circled letters were the second part, but ERFOATIN was obviously a non-thing. (Unless someone scientifically proves the existence of an ERFOATIN HOLE.) So then figured the whole word would be the second part that was holding the first part. Still, when I got that last one, MARSFORINSTANCE, I thought it to be a peculiar answer, not the best to the ears or in general. Did expect Rex to lose it on that answer alone. He didn't disappoint.

    No quibbles on the LEE clue. Agree there's a bunch of different ways to clue it, but it wasn't fly-off-the-handle worthy.

    Writeovers, vacay-RANDR (can't be the only one on that), ateup-EATEN, pIS-XIS, MICa-MICK (1) that's quite funny to me, 2) because I wanted AVIA first for KEDS and had written in the A, which led to MICa.)

    Speaking of Donny and Marie OSMOND, they are finally wrapping up their stint here in Las Vegas. Last few shows. Not sure if they're done this month, or October.


    Anonymous 10:26 AM  

    Bourbon St is a well-known street in New Orleans, Beale St is a famous street in Memphis.

    David 10:31 AM  

    Not much to say about this hot mess; I mostly agree with Rex with exceptions already pointed out.

    @Roth, how about Acushnet?

    @Anon 1:42am, are you Rex re-posting to disagree with yourself?

    @zevonfan, the word "people" does not mean "everyone" and I like tone-deaf more than the rant Rex wrote. Also, for the record, the most racist place I've ever lived was Boston, where I went to school in the late 70s. It's changed somewhat, as has much of the country. Sadly, we're not all the way there yet.

    @BarbieBarbie, agree with your 6:20 post, Hired Person is certainly a thing, as is cattle fodder. Rex needs to get out more (as we all know).

    @Anon 8:41, love the quote from xword, thanks. It reminds me of Glenn Gould, who said that, with judicious editing, Wagner's Ring cycle would make a nice evening of music.

    As a New Yorker who watched the towers burn (the second plane literally flew over my head) and then felt them collapse from about 8 miles away, the last thing I'd want to see would be a puzzle about that day. Just no thanks.

    Whatsername 10:32 AM  

    @Amie Devero: Bourbon and Beale are streets/STS in Memphis.

    Upon finishing this puzzle, I was feeling quite out of sorts and could hardly wait to come here to read the review and comments. To that end, I was actually very relieved to see that Rex and many others found it as painful as I did. I always try to find something good about each puzzle but it was tough to come up with something today.

    As a born and raised farm girl, I can attest that the traditional term for one employed as a general laborer is “hired hand.” So in that sense a hand most certainly is a hired person and a thing. I understand the objections to 64A, but we cannot erase it from history any more than we can forget 9/11. On the other hand, when those three letters are required in the fill - no need to go there. Ever.

    Here’s hoping Thursday will be the saving grace for this week.

    Carola 10:33 AM  

    This one came in Easy on the Difficulty Scale and Borderline on the Delite Meter. I saw the theme with HERON, which helped me get the 5-letter snake in the grass and the ace in the hole with just a few crosses, while it took a little longer to understand "come up in the world" and accept a towel as an ACCESSORY. Add me to the kvetcher's chorus on MARS FOR INSTANCE. Nice idea, but oy vey on 2 of the 5 theme answers.

    I lucked out on the PPP front, happening to know INIGO and ELIE from their work and ZAHN and NEYO from previous puzzles. I guess I knew GSTAAD from long-ago reading about jet-setters who regularly jetted off there. Only. LEONA was a stranger.

    Jimz 10:34 AM  

    Finally got MARS FOR INSTANCE via crosses and thought I was wrong, it couldn't be this stoopid.

    Ethan Taliesin 10:35 AM  

    GSTAAD? I'd heard of it but it doesn't come up in conversation too much. I really must get out and jet-set more often.

    I liked today's puzzle okay and agree that Gen LEE has gotten far more than his fair share of attention. Ang, jeans, Harper, Motley Crue's Tommy, Majors, Van Cleef--even Atwater and Harvey Oswald would be better!

    Anonymous 10:39 AM  

    Give up. The English language has been declared dead owing to capitulation to cranks, hysterics and hand wringers in Women's Studies departments across the country.y

    Unionist 10:41 AM  

    Sure, there’s plenty of LEES in the world, but who cares. Robert E. LEE is the most interesting and the most studied LEE, and his family was among the most prominent and important in the founding of the United States of America. Everything worth reading about him was written in the nineteenth century by the people who were there, and believe me they wrote a lot. If you want to read an assessment of Robert E. LEE, the general and the man, read William Tecumseh Sherman’s version written in 1888, not some modern day internet piffle.

    Also, Robert E. LEE was not a slaveowner; he didn’t have any money. His wife owned the slaves.

    Also: Ang LEE and Spike LEE are both scumbags. Look it up.

    Whatsername 10:43 AM  

    Oops! Sorry, Bourbon ST’s in NOLA, not MEM.

    nyc_lo 10:46 AM  

    This puzzle felt like it was written by a robot: technically doable, but with no real understanding of how humans think or communicate. What a steaming pile of garbage.

    Anonymous 10:48 AM  

    to be utterly blunt: 'honoring' a traitor to this country on the day of Saudi infamy? killing, nearly entirely (perhaps 100%), those of the Union States? Shortz is without shame. a worthy disciple of the Manchurian President.

    What? 10:50 AM  

    I said of yesterday’s puzzle have we run out of themes. Today’s puzzle illustrates the point. Really ugly.

    Cassieopia 11:02 AM  

    I made it as far as understanding that the circled letters related to the clue, but hadn't made the connection that the whole solution was related as well. Had to come here to completely understand the theme, and once I did, I thought, "oh, cool".

    Still, the solving experience was unpleasant, with many names I had never heard of: Rowdy YATES, INIGO Jones (or is it Jones INIGO?), LEONA the Avatar singer, GSTAAD the destination of discriminating jet-setters. PYRES raised my eyebrows a bit, but despite the torrent of comments today about other awfulness (LEE in particular), I don't see that anyone else seemed to feel squeamish about PYRES. Speaking of LEE, I had no idea that he was carved into a mountain. Why can't we just leave mountains alone, and let their natural form speak eloquently of beauty and majesty? Humans. Sheesh.

    Shout outs today to @David 8:12 for the link to the excellent article, and to @This Recent Unpleasantness 10:00 for a thoughtful and thought-provoking post.

    dadnoa 11:03 AM  

    +1, Joaquin, succinct, deep, and insightful. All in 2 sentences. Nicely crafted.

    Anonymous 11:05 AM  

    So are Genghis Khan or Attila the Hun also verboten as answers to clues? Get over yourselves.

    did they enslave folks of color on plantations in pre-America and after? again, the issue is both
    1) the person
    2) cluing the person with a monument to both the person and the war the slavers started.

    @No Man:
    People like Rex are why Trump is going to get re-elected.

    you've obviously forgotten that Trump got put on his throne (well, Kremlin East) because 78,900 idiots in PA, MI, and WI voted for him. he's not, and never has been, the President of anything but rural, racist, rednecks. and that number continues to drop. Trumpists very nearly lost that NC special yesterday. Trump got it by 12 percentage points. do you here the stampede in the distance? most 'Mericans aren't rural, racist, and uneducated (the ones Trump trumpets that he loves).

    George NYC 11:15 AM  

    I agree that a tribute puzzle on 9/11 would be inappropriate. What I meant was some sort of tacit acknowledgement that this day is different. A puzzle equivalent to a visit to Normandy beaches on the anniversary of D-Day, or the annual trip to the tomb of the unknowns, say. It would take some thought, and skill. And that's the point.

    jb129 11:27 AM  

    Loved the Mick for Head Stone.

    Unknown 11:27 AM  

    I'm gonna need you to tone your super weird racism down.

    Lol "n word spewing" "RAPPERS"

    Hungry Mother 11:33 AM  

    I awoke at 2:30am and started the puzzle during an early breakfast. I went out for 6 hours of trail running, 2 in the dark. When I got back I finished the puzzle. I found it tough for a Wednesday, but maybe that’s partly due to my being a bit brain-fried from the training. I liked the theme and tolerated the names.

    Joe Dipinto 11:34 AM  

    ♪ Why does every single thing I see
    Look exactly like a doodle to me? ♪

    I'm not sure Rex understands that the answer to the italicized clue is one definition of, or one use for, the word before the question mark in each case. The answer doesn't have to be a "thing" in the sense of it being a commonly-spoken term.

    For me the theme works, though I will allow that MARS, FOR INSTANCE is sort off the mark. I don't much care for the rest of the puzzle.

    ♪ One, two, three, look at Mr. Lee
    Three, four, five, look at him jive
    Mr. Lee, Mr. Lee oh, Mr. Lee
    Mr. Lee, Mr. Lee oh, Mr. Lee...♪

    Anonymous 11:43 AM  

    Totally agree with Rex's assessment of this puzzle. There was so much bad with the themers he didn't even get around to mentioning INIGO crossing GSTAAD. No joy solving this one.

    Sgreennyc 11:45 AM  

    Trump will always be angry because he is not Obama and Rex will be forever unhappy because he's not Shortz. Sad.

    howard a. brenner 11:50 AM  

    This dreadful puzzle illustrates why its wrong to hate on everything. Something like this comes along and it’s hard to convey just how awful it is.

    albatross shell 11:50 AM  

    Referring to the world of Mars sounds like
    standard usage to me. And in War of the Worlds the invaders were Martian.

    The clues for the themes are not that hard in retrospect.

    HERON is a bird in HIREDPERSON which is clued by hand.

    ARISE is come up in MARSFORINSTANCE which is clued by world.

    PRO is an Ace in PERFORATION which is clued by hole.


    Although which is the clue and which is the answer is perhaps reversed. And the hint that something like this is is going on is the circled letters.

    There were some good and amusing clues FORINSTANCE ODDMAN MICK.

    Screwdrivers are made with hard liquor, that is distilled as opposed to fermented. They are called that because they generally have a higher volume of alcohol. If you dilute hard liquor it is still distilled, but is it still a hard drink. I tilt to yes, but who makes the rules? Not me.

    I thought it was a pretty typical Wednesday for 90% of the puzzle. The confusing theme and some nasty crosses, names and places made it extra special crunchy, that is exasperating and irritating, as opposed to entertaining. But that was only 10% and if I were smarter...

    Ilhan Omar 11:52 AM  

    On this date eighteen years ago some people did something.

    QuasiMojo 12:00 PM  

    @Nancy, I'm glad you found somethings in my post to agree with considering we differed on the overall puzzle's merits. I once got into a shouting match with someone after I called Leona Helmsley a name, the B word. My adversary called me sexist. But it would have been odd to call her by a male expletive. As for Gstaad, I went there once hoping to find "the Beautiful People." All I found were a lot of very cold people, their faces hidden by furry hats, cashmere shawls, and oversized Gucci sunglasses, making it hard to see if they were beautiful or not. It was the dead of winter and spa accessories were the only saving grace.

    JR 12:10 PM  

    Is GSTAAD ... like ... normal Crosswordese that I should know? Like ETUI and NAENAE and ENO and so on? Because I ... did not know that. Nope. Not one bit.

    As a responsible person I'm more upset about the cluing on LEE, but as a confused solver ... definitely have more KNICKERS IN A TWIST (heh) over GSTAAD.

    davidm 12:14 PM  

    @Unionist: Oh, please! The Myth of the Kindly General Lee:

    Lee WAS a slave owner, and a brutal one at that. From the above article:

    Lee’s cruelty as a slavemaster was not confined to physical punishment. In Reading the Man, the historian Elizabeth Brown Pryor’s portrait of Lee through his writings, Pryor writes that “Lee ruptured the Washington and Custis tradition of respecting slave families,” by hiring them off to other plantations, and that “by 1860 he had broken up every family but one on the estate, some of whom had been together since Mount Vernon days.” The separation of slave families was one of the most unfathomably devastating aspects of slavery, and Pryor wrote that Lee’s slaves regarded him as “the worst man I ever see.”


    When two of his slaves escaped and were recaptured, Lee either beat them himself or ordered the overseer to "lay it on well." Wesley Norris, one of the slaves who was whipped, recalled that “not satisfied with simply lacerating our naked flesh, Gen. Lee then ordered the overseer to thoroughly wash our backs with brine, which was done.”

    Furthermore, Lee was even a rotten general. Again, from the above link:

    But despite his ability to win individual battles, his decision to fight a conventional war against the more densely populated and industrialized North is considered by many historians to have been a fatal strategic error.

    Sorry if this is off topic, but please! Lee was a monster.

    Hey, maybe the Times puzzle could have a clue like this: “Obscure Austrian corporal who eventually made a big splash.” Answer: six letters, starts with H.

    Masked and Anonymous 12:29 PM  

    @RP: M&A ain't feelin the Circles luv in yer blog write-up today. Not much luv in there for HAR, either, I'd sadly note [sniffle].

    Ned White is clearly from MARS. QED. Explains a lot, especially in the grid-spanner.

    Staff weeject pick: STS. Hard to beat that solid plural abbrev meat. honorable mention to: SDS. Splatzed together, U coulda had a pretty neat clue, what with: {What has curbs on both SDS??} = STS, or somesuch.

    Admired {Checks (out)} = SCOPES, and {Head Stone?} = MICK. And {Art often of marginal quality?} = DOODLE. Lotsa neat clues … helped make this puppy (somewhat) entertainin.
    Dis-admired: GSTAAD/INIGO. Earned a dreaded State Farm ad "whaaaat?!" from the M&A. Lost precious nanoseconds of alarm (& subsequent in-solvequest "research").

    GOODFATS. Verrry interestin concept. Must contemplate, over a coupla c-rolls [fave fillins].

    Thanx, Mr. White, now of Red [previously Ned] Planet fame. Primo weeject stacks in the NE & SW, btw. Those lil ET's [Extra-Threes] are always real welcome.

    Masked & Anonymo1Us

    pre-decked-flat-physician account:

    Joseph M 12:35 PM  

    Add me to the island of those who liked this puzzle. The theme was clever and fun to figure out. The clues offered enough resistance to put my brain to work more than usual on a Wednesday. Thank you, Ned White. I always enjoy your puzzles, even though on this one I tanked on the INIGO/GSTAAD cross.

    LEE could have been clued as a snake-like fish swimming backwards.

    Anonymous 12:37 PM  

    Wow, when Shortz swings and misses, he really misses. Where are the reviewers who supposedly tell Will that the puzzle sucks? Are they afraid to say it? Or are they all just yes-men?

    Will, this puzzle sucked. Big time. Either retire, or stop printing absolute shite like this.

    Anonymous 12:48 PM  

    God this puzzle sucked so badly I specifically came here to see if Rex ripped it and I was not disappointed. Blech.

    Anonymous 1:03 PM  

    Why not Geddy Lee: still a racist (and Canadian), but not someone who led this country's biggest insurrection (until November of 2016, that is). Or how about Lee Harvey Oswald, as long as we're commemorating men who've tried, and failed, to destroy this great nation? I do love the freedom we have to voice our opinions (until trump nominates another Justice, that is), including the freedom for a minority of Americans to continue to fly the Stars 'n' Bars even though that particular flag represents treason; but to casually throw Robert E Lee into the puzzle, in the context of being so great he had his face carved into a mountainside, that's just sad. C'mon, Will, get it together.

    oldactor 1:04 PM  

    Flew through this puzzle laughing all the way. Loved learning that sailors sleep till noon, apparently.

    puzzlehoarder 1:05 PM  

    A Saturday's worth of puzzling on a Wednesday? I'll take it anyway it comes. Yes the phrases are "hard liquor" and "hired hand" but when green paint facilitates a challenging solve it's well worth it.

    Four of the themes we're straight up green paint and the fifth is just a plain old word. Once again this kept me on my feet.

    Working around GSTAAD was the highlight of the solve. Any time a constructor wants to spice up their puzzle with a pre-Shortz relic like that I'm all for it.

    As a retired firefighter today's anniversary is of particular significance. However I don't think it would be anymore appropriate to base a puzzle on that topic than it would be to create one concerning slavery or genocide.

    Aura Lea 1:07 PM  

    As per Xword info, Lee was first clued as “General” in 1943 and since then dozens if not hundreds of times in that manner. I don’t see why all of sudden he is problematical. The righteous indignation from people who let his inclusion go unmentioned all these years is risible.

    old timer 1:08 PM  

    Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! Or the rants of OFL. Or to anything Mr Trump ever tweets (Now what he does does demand our attention, so to me, what counted yesterday was that he fired the execrable Bolton, a man with almost as much blood on his hands as LEE--as someone pointed out, what is disturbing is the man was hired in the first place).

    So all of the circled letters are answers to the first word of the clue, like HERON for bird. I get that. Whst confuses me is that the whole answer is sometimes another way of describing the last word, and sometimes seems to apply to the whole clue. A hand is, on a ranch or farm, a HIRED PERSON. A PERFORATION is a hole. But for towel to work, you need the entire SPA ACCESSORY. For grass to work, the CATTLE are needed to explain FODDER. And MARS FOR INSTANCE makes to sense either way. It is not "the world" at least to us. In is an answer to the question, "Can you think of any planets that rise (come up) in the evening sky?" But it is not an answer to the last word in the clue, nor to the whole clue.

    And yeah, who has ever heard of LEONA Lewis? The erstwhile Queen of Mean, I would have understood.

    Masked and Anonymous 1:08 PM  

    First m&sg correction, as no doubt expected …

    AllState ad "whaaat", not StateFarm. (See how well yer day-um annoyin scare tactic ads are workin, AllState dudes?)
    AllState offerins are "not available in All States", btw. As per their ad footnotes. Classic. But, I digress.

    Masked & Anonymo1U
    (Puz shouldn'ta rated an "S" at the end, for its meager U-count today)

    * They say some LEE fans are already missin that White House bolt-on nut … ??
    * I kinda doubt the Shortzmeister puts NRA, or even all them LEE clues, in the puz. Mighty easy for him to change the clues, I'd grant. Slippery slope, tho. Nice to include the author's words, when reasonabLEE written.

    Teedmn 1:09 PM  

    HAR, two dubious puzzles in a row. Besides making me work hard for a Wednesday, this one didn't have a lot of "great" to offer.

    So everybody is hanging in their hammocks until NOON when at sea? HAR. (Having AT Nine there made hay of my CATTLE FODDER for a while.)

    Somebody stole the last cinnamon roll and now it's "gone from the plate" and EATEN? HAR.

    One who is "out" is not playing baseball, he's an ODD MAN? HAR.

    What I look like in humidity? WIRE HAIRED. HAR.

    I guess I got my share of amusement from this, thanks Ned.

    webwinger 1:12 PM  

    While not generally a fan of circles-in-squares, I actually liked this puzzle. The contorted concept of the theme worked for me. Recognizing it helped with solving in the bottom half. HIRED PERSON, CATTLE FODDER definitely are things. Thought MARS FOR INSTANCE was pretty clever. SPA ACCESSORY a bit of a stretch, but technically seemed OK. Fill no worse than average. I didn't have a problem with most of the somewhat obscure answers that have been complained about, and agree with praise from others for some of the clues.

    I was only dimly aware of Stone Mountain, so read the entire Wikipedia entry, which was written with admirably temperate language but devastating in its description of a truly racist undertaking on a huge scale. With so many alternatives for LEE, it seems like the clueing was a deliberate attempt to provoke. But I have to say it was valuable for me to be led to greater awareness of a troubling piece of US history. Slavery, the Confederacy, the Civil War and its aftermath need to be understood, not hidden from view. The still festering resentments, now heated to as high a level as I can recall in a generation, at least in the North, have to be faced with empathy for all involved even as the wrongness of one side and the imbalance of impact is acknowledged and amends are made. OFL’s reaction is a perfect example of how not to be a part of the solution.

    BTW, I recently visited South Dakota and saw Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse memorial for the first time. Both very impressive, Rushmore less so. It was created by Gutzon Borglum some years after his serious but ill-fated involvement with Stone Mountain. (Per the Wikipedia entry, he strongly supported that project, and the KKK!) Crazy Horse, still far from finished more than 70 years after carving was begun (by Korczak Ziolkowski, an amazing guy who took it on as his life’s work following Borglum’s refusal to even meet with the Native American group trying to get it going around the time Rushmore was nearing completion) was truly awe-inspiring. On the right side of history in the best possible way.

    DigitalDan 1:16 PM  

    At least the answer to "time off" wasn't VACAY. Some day soon it probably (barf) will be.

    Blue Stater 1:52 PM  

    Absolutely right, Rex. I'm always nominating puzzles for Worst Evah, but this one, for all the reasons you cite and more (in addition to a staggering number of errors), retires the trophy. To use a coinage I once got ripped up one side and down the other for using of an earlier candidate (and I wasn't wrong), this one was a real stinkerissimo.

    kodak jenkins 1:53 PM  

    Not a good puzzle but an even worse Rex Rant.

    Puzzle: Crummy fill, cool theme awkwardly done, Natick at INIGO/GSTAAD. Does the theme even mean anything? HERON ADDER ARISE PASS PRO= a secret code?

    Rex Rant: (sigh) and again (sigh)
    Since when is putting something in a crossword puzzle "celebrating" that thing? Are we also celebrating HAR today? The impressive PERFORATION? The awe-inspiring STET? I'm already partied out with all these celebrations.

    How is a crossword any different than a history book or encyclopedia? Are Rex, etal, also outraged by references to General Lee when they read articles about the Civil War? Should we stop teaching about slavery and other delicate topics? Are these issues too sensitive for today's population of fainting goats?

    Come on, people.

    Blue Stater 1:58 PM  

    Absolutely right, Rex. I'm always nominating puzzles for Worst Evah, but this one, for all the reasons you cite and more (in addition to a staggering number of errors), retires the trophy. To use a coinage I once got ripped up one side and down the other for using of an earlier candidate (and I wasn't wrong), this one was a real stinkerissimo.

    Unknown 1:58 PM  

    In what Universe is ticket agent considered a transportation safety worker?

    kitshef 2:07 PM  

    On Biography online's list of most famous people, the only LEE listed is Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web. Would have made a nice clue for today and a nice answer for yesterday.

    No Man 2:09 PM  

    Trump got elected because the D party nominated the only person capable of losing to Donald Trump.

    JC66 2:19 PM  

    @Unknown 1:58

    Transportation safety workers, eg ((6D) = TSA AGENTS

    WhatDoing 3:10 PM  

    For once I agree wholeheartedly with Rex! This was a dud from start to finish. Unpleasant in the extreme. Inept. A total mess!!!!!

    tea73 3:13 PM  

    INIGO Jones is a gimme for me, but only because I'm an architect. I don't expect most people to know who designed Covent Garden or the Banqueting House Whitehall.

    I never heard of NEYO or ZAHN or Rowdy YATES or LEONA Lewis, but I guessed them all correctly. I got stuck forever on Opiclean, because I somehow thought I wanted the letter after Omicron not before it. Oops.

    Annabel LEE would have been nice for a change.

    Anoa Bob 3:26 PM  

    Like @oldactor, I was surprised to see that the "nautical day" begins AT NOON (10D). Is it too late to sue the Navy for lost wages for all those times my day began before NOON? I'm thinking time-and-a-half here!

    I know that NOON is when navigators take a sextant sighting of the sun to help establish their present location, but at sea, there is no beginning or end to the day. It's 24-7 until you're back in port.

    I was a bartender for a few years and I don't recall ever hearing the term HARD DRINKS for "screwdrivers" or any other drinks. HARD liquor yes, HARD DRINKS no.

    MARS FOR INSTANCE sounds to me like a random snippet from a lecture on the planets and doesn't strike me as a stand-alone, crossword worthy phrase.

    Agree with the assessment that the theme idea is servicable and there are some nice touches here and there, but the grid needed some rework and polishing.

    Fred Wollam 3:48 PM  

    FDR's famed attempt to halt the Great Depression: The

    National Recovery Act

    Shorter: "Parent" of the CCC

    Lorraine Dusky 3:50 PM  

    The absolute WORST PUZZLE EVER.

    VJG 3:52 PM  

    'Throw in the towel' can be a pass? I thought it was only used for quitting the game or admitting defeat.

    Uke Xensen 4:03 PM  

    I'm among the minority who enjoyed this (easy) puzzle. I'm no fan of Lee, who I wrote about in one of my books (as enabling the despicable civilian massacre at Veracruz), but I didn't take his appearance here as a celebration of him.

    Rug Crazy 4:04 PM  

    Rex hit the nail on the head. Finished, but felt like crap afterward

    Rug Crazy 4:07 PM  

    OH YES - and nAyo eliA cross - looks like rex erred....probably been reported, no time to read the comments today

    foxaroni 4:10 PM  

    I thought the puzzle was relatively do-able. The theme, however, was not. Also, it seems odd that "hired hand," which is not gender specific, needs to be gender neutral.I

    "The Atlantic" article on Gen. Lee was very informative. Thanks for providing the link. I'm ambivalent about using Lee as a puzzle entry in this instance. Lee is one of three carved on Stone Mountain. That won't change until someone blows up the mountain. Any clue that would favorably refer to Lee in his Confederate role would be objectionable.

    @AnnieMaine 7:05 am: Let he or she who is without typos cast the first stone.

    @ JB is on it 9:28 am: Stagger Lee was the shooter, not the shootee. Billy was the victim. "Stagger Lee shot Billy" such that "the bullet went through Billy and broke the bartender's glass."

    Mo-T 4:11 PM  

    Wowza. Such a lot of vitriol. Shoot, Montezuma; it's just a little puzzle.

    @M&A, 12:29 and 1:08 PM <> Yer killin' me. HAR.

    (Thought of you immediately when I read the clue for 11A: Guffaw Syllable.)

    ghostoflectricity 4:19 PM  

    Agree with Rex. The worst. Random and inept, with the whole Stone Mountain thing- a regular locus of hate groups' rallies- making it unacceptable at all.

    Chip Hilton 4:35 PM  

    All these complaints about INIGO, GSTAAD, and ROWDY (all of which I knew) and LEONA and NEYO (both of whom I didn’t). Isn’t one of the points of a crossword to fill in what is not known to you by using the crossing words? Seems like a puzzle where you knew each and every word immediately would be rather boring.

    On LEE: The Civil War general is an important figure in American history. The clue didn’t glorify him.

    Rex and those who were sent into shivers by Robert E.’s inclusion in this puzzle make me embarrassed to call myself a liberal.

    Kathleen Ruttum 4:44 PM  

    I’m slightly embarrassed to admit this, but I knew the GSTAAD clue from Dan Ackroyd’s line from Trading Places when he’s trying to pawn his watch!
    “It tells time simultaneously in Philadelphia, Monte Carlo, Beverly Hills, London, Paris, Rome and GSTAAD”

    Liberal Gal 5:02 PM  

    Lee clued for Robert E. has been around since the invention of crossword. Nobody ever objected before. What’s changed ? We now have Twitter and the cancel culture. Don’t be part of the mob. You’re on the wrong side of history.

    Mohair Sam 5:05 PM  

    Oh dear, I kinda liked the puzzle. I didn't have a problem with the themers (understand that if Rex doesn't know a term it becomes not a thing) - and thought MARS misdirected by "world" was clever as hell. And the LEE as hero thing annoyed no more than clues recalling that traitor always do, just like CHE clues. But neither sends me ranting.

    Did you know the LEE-Jackson highway (Rt. 50) runs to our nation's Capital? Portions of the road have been renamed for John Mosby, a Confederate brigade commander. We've got a lot of rooting out to do if we're going to rid this country of its Confederate "heroes".

    @Rex (NRA hater?) - Your linked song "Stagger Lee" celebrates the actual 1895 murder of Billy Lyons by the pistol packing pimp "Stag" Lee Shelton. According to Wikipedia Shelton shot Lyons in a dispute over who had the rights to Stag Lee's Stetson hat. Stag, always cool, put on the hat and walked out the bar after shooting Billy to death. He served 12 for his deed, got out, got arrested for something else and died in prison. Maybe Annabel is a better clue choice to replace Robert E., whattaya think?

    Nancy 5:17 PM  

    For those of you who, like me, approach the whole "which LEE is permitted to appear in crosswords and how should he or she be clued?" debate as a ridiculous and completely manufactured kerfuffle, have I got a song for you! But don't click on it unless you have a sense of humor because it's a very, very funny song. (@Joe Dipinto -- have you already guessed what it is?)
    So many LEEs; so little time.

    Amy 5:59 PM  

    Yes, Jeff Chen even totally panned this. Bad.

    Annette 7:01 PM  

    Late in commenting, as I am travel/camping on the west coast and don’t often have a signal. When I do have one, I always do the puzzle, but I might miss it for several days. My goodness, I wish I’d missed today's. DNFed because I ceased caring after SPAACCESSORY. 100% with Rex today.

    Joe Dipinto 7:03 PM  

    @Nancy -- I remembered the Lee character had a big number in "1776", but I couldn't really remember the song itself. So I sort of half-figured it out.

    Doc John 7:15 PM  

    This is the only INIGO.
    You killed my father. Prepare to die.

    Anonymous 7:19 PM  

    “Some people did something,’ said a freshman congresswoman from Minnesota,” Haros said, referencing Omar’s description of the event. “Today I am here to respond to you exactly who did what to whom. Madam, objectively speaking, we know who and what was done. There is no uncertainty about that. Why your confusion?” Haros asked. “On that day, 19 Islamic terrorist members of al-Qaeda killed over 3,000 people”

    Anonymous 7:21 PM  

    I love you!!!!!! Me too viz Trading Places. With all the nonsense about Lee where Jamie Lee was much cited, kept waiting for someone to mention the film.
    If Mohair Sam is lurking... Please compare and contrast the Rittenhouse Square of Billy Ray Valentine's day with today.

    Escalator 7:41 PM  

    But do you really feel?

    Anonymous 7:44 PM  

    @Nancy- Sadly, there will never be another revival of 1776 on Broadway again. If someone put on a play that offended my sensibilities I wouldn’t attend. I wouldn’t try to keep it from being shown. The progressives today are essentially the same people who favored banning Ulysses and Lady Chatterly’s Lover back in the day.

    Amy 7:49 PM  

    aw come on it wasn’t that bad !
    Grass is fodder for Cattle.
    A hired person is a hand of sorts. Like a handy man.
    Perforation is a hole, and our ace, pro, is in it.
    A towel is definitely a spa accessory, and a pass is a throw.

    Mars for instance I totally didn’t get until reading Rex’s
    rant, and now it makes sense somehow.

    Gstaad is a laugher and I had to gsoogle it.

    Phaedrus 8:15 PM  

    I think it’s ridiculous to complain that Lee shouldn’t be in the puzzle because he was “racist.” I’d guess that 99.9% of the people alive back then would be considered racist in today’s society. Heck, even Abe Lincoln didn’t think blacks should have the same rights as whites. So, should Honest Abe also not be allowed in the crossword?

    Stephen Minehart 8:27 PM  

    "There are lots of red planets. Mars for instance." Said no one ever.

    Casimir 8:53 PM  

    I'm, the times regularly does precisely that with Mao. If we're going to ban monsters let's be certain we ban them all.

    gr8galactic 9:32 PM  

    Ok remain as 'fascinated' as you want to by a small cadre of men deciding to spill rivers of blood in the vain attempt to retain chattel slavery. Knowing troop movement isn't like finding figurines, christ.

    Joe Dipinto 11:18 PM  

    @Anonymous 7:44 -- Actually there is a Broadway revival of "1776" in the works for 2021.

    Also, it should be noted (if it's not completely obvious) that the Lee portrayed in "1776" is not Robert E. but Richard Henry.

    Wordsmith 11:57 PM  

    Difficult puzzle but the Lee clue was actually educational. It exposes the unrelenting attitude of the state of Georgia that would sanction carving an image of Lee into Stone Mountain. By the way, Mortimer Snerd was a famous foil to Charlie McCarthy.(creations of Edgar Bergen to you youngsters)

    Anonymous 12:12 AM  

    Terrible. Never got the theme. Every theme answer was painstakingly filled in by the crosses. Might just as well have not clued them at all.

    Amie Devero 8:33 AM  


    Anonymous 8:44 AM  

    I remember in school, a long time ago, that in our textbooks they tried to pretend there were other more important reasons for the Civil War than slavery, and that abolitionists were kooks and cranks (John Brown).

    Frantic Sloth 11:04 AM  

    Thank you! I thought it was me.

    Anonymous 2:46 PM  

    The objection to LEE is fair enough, but is everyone cool with running RIP and PYRES on 9/11? I would have expected that to incite more outrage that the LEE clue.

    Harriet Kelly 11:03 AM  

    So, I had my pencil sharpened and I was ready to tackle a patriotic, 9/11 theme puzzle. Kept waiting for it to kick in. Finally, had to come to the realization that this was NOT a patriotic, 9/11 theme puzzle - not even close. Then when I saw the "Lee" clue, I decided that I was completely on the wrong track. Found this puzzle to be the worst I have ever seen. Finally, gave up and tossed it.

    spacecraft 10:46 AM  

    Total garbage. Couldn't even bring myself to finish. My finger was on a hair trigger after the ampersandwich, and when the long one turned out to be MARSFORINSTANCE, that was it. Scraping the bottom of the barrel, aren't we?

    Burma Shave 11:54 AM  


    (an ODDMAN whose ARMS are INKED)
    who ATNOON helps my MORALs worsen,
    serving me ONE or more HARDDRINKS.


    rondo 12:07 PM  

    Lotsa comments on this puz, which means one of two things, and in this case not positive unless you count @Lewis. The other Lewis today is yeah baby LEONA, positively. X marks the spot of one write-over needed to make OpICLEAN correct. Near Natick at the INIGO/GSTAAD cross, but I remembered INIGO before out I went. So far the Mon-puz is the star of the week.

    leftcoast 3:42 PM  

    Enjoyed dealing with the wordplay. More of that can mean less PPP trivia, though there was enough of that here, too.

    The HERON in the HIREDPERSON exposed the gimmick, clued by "Bird in the hand". PERFORATION and its PRO was last themer to go. Did need the circles for the solve.

    Last letter in was the X in XIS/OXICLEAN cross. As for that and other answers, ran the alphabet a bit more than usual to fill in the blanks. Crosses helped, too.

    PUTT as in PUTT-putt, "a club game"? Okay, I guess, but never heard of.

    To repeat, enjoyed the wordplay.

    rainforest 4:41 PM  

    Oof. Or, per POGO, Oog. I'm sure that's how Ned and Will might feel today. However, I think all the hate (hate, for a crossword puzzle) is unmerited. I rather liked this one. I enjoyed working out the theme, which I got at PERFORATION, and I admired the MARS answer. After all, there are lots of worlds out there: Jupiter, Venus, and MARS, FOR INSTANCE.

    As a Canadian, I don't get the vitriol for LEE, and the references to him as a traitor and a racist. Seems to me that America today is rife with them (I won't list them all). Wrong as he may have been, he fought for a cause which I assume he believed in. He lived. He died. He was part of American history. So were the slave owners who are referred to as "The Founders". So much in here, but I never understand how there are "good" or "bad" answers.

    There's lemonade, and there's HARD lemonade. One of them is a HARD DRINK.

    I liked the clues for SCOPES, MICK, DOODLE and ODD MAN, and probably others.

    Diana, LIW 9:39 PM  

    Solved the puzzle, not the theme. Meh.

    D, LIW

    Sly 2:25 PM  

    Just did this puzzle today, agree it was awful

    Rick J 7:47 AM  

    Wow. There is so much more wrong with this puzzle than the fact that Robert E. Lee is one little clue. I'm trying so hard to find an analogy here, but failing. Folks just seem to enjoy finding something to feel righteously angry about; the really annoying thing is that they're so sure their anger is righteous. I agree with whoever said "grow up." Seesh.

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