East Coast 7-Eleven competitor / WED 12-18-19 / Harry's foil in Harry Potter / Start of long-winded musing from author / Catchword in waste management / Article of equipment akin to wakeboard / Rapid breakup of frozen stream in spring

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Constructor: Margaret Saine

Relative difficulty: Mediumish (4:48)

THEME: editing — a convoluted sentence, inside of which are circled words that, taken together, form a well-edited version of said sentence:

Theme answers:
  • EDITING A DRAFT OF (17A: Start of a long-winded musing from an author)
  • WRITING WELL IS (35A: Musing, part 2)
  • SURELY AN ART FORM (53A: End of the musing, which could simply have been the circled squares)
Word of the Day: PASEO (31A: Public walkway) —

1aa leisurely usually evening stroll PROMENADE
ba public walk or boulevard

2a formal entrance march of bullfighters into an arena (merriam-webster.com)
• • •

As with yesterday's puzzle, there seems to be a significant gap between what the constructor wanted to do and what the constructor did. That is, the concept was sound, but the execution was less so. Only yesterday, the puzzle still managed to hold up, however totteringly. This one isn't so lucky. For me, the main problem is that the original, unedited sentence is entirely implausible that I couldn't make any grammatical sense of it at all while solving, and that even now does not seem like a sentence that any human would ever write—certainly no human that had written well enough in the past to have made it to the stage where they would actually *have* an editor. The thing that well (!) and truly kills the plausibility of the sentence is WELL. It took me forever (OK, maybe half a minute or so, which is Forever) after solving to figure out that WELL was an adverb modifying EDITING (!?). I just kept thinking "what is a 'draft of writing well'???!" Ditch the WELL and at least I have a plausible (however outlandish) bad sentence that I can imagine being edited into shape. The WELL is just a tin-eared disaster. The unedited sentence is a bad bad sentence. Not bad comma bad. Bad modifying bad. And if the subject of your puzzle is the art of editing, well ... I mean ... here, I'll let this tweet tell it:

FORM crossing ... FORMED

How in—and I cannot stress this enough—the world do you let FORMED (44D: Gave shape to) cross FORM, in *any* puzzle, let alone one that is specifically about the art of editing!? This may be the greatest self-own in the history of crossword puzzle editing. I guess the NYTXW really *is* the "gold standard* after all. Bravo!

Five things:
  • 35D: East Coast 7-Eleven competitor (WAWA) — apparently this is a Philly thing (??). I'm sure I've seen one, but I've never lived anywhere near one and I needed every cross to get this answer
  • 1D: Cheap and inauthentic (CHEESY) — I had CHEAPO. You can see how that was never going to work
  • 8D: One who's "out" (ODD MAN) — man does he look ... odd ... all by himself there, without the "out" ...
  • 33A: Craze (MANIA) — had -ANI-, wrote in PANIC
  • 24D: Illustration for an ill tourist? (ANAGRAM) — I tend to find [blank for blank?] clues for ANAGRAM exasperating, but this one's so bonkers, I kinda like it (to be very very extra clear, "Illustration" is an ANAGRAM of "an ill tourist")
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Solverinserbia 2:39 AM  

So the theme answers weren't a real quote but were some sort of joke/example of something that needed editing? *eyeroll* *facepalm*

9:17 so quick solve for me

jae 3:12 AM  

Medium. I’ve done a fair amount of editing and have had a more than fair amount done to me, so I thought this was clever and amusing. Liked it.

@Rex - If it wasn’t a monumentally bad sentence it wouldn’t need editing.

Nice debut.

Brookboy 4:45 AM  

What @jae said. Also enjoyed it.

Klazzic 5:23 AM  

Impeach this puzzle.

GILL I. 6:24 AM  

Yes...like @jae, it was amusing - almost FOLKSY. Felt Monday easy for moi.
Of course WRITING WELL IS AN ART. We have some here that are masters. I just put my pen in my mouth and shout away. Grammar ain't my thang.
How unfair to use God's gift of the curds and whey to turn CHEESY into a cheap and inauthentic word. I protest! MISE en place I learned from chef Anne Burrell from the Food Network. She shouts that out to all the wannabes. I just call it food prep.
When I see MERE I think bagatelle my dear. But I suppose we are mortals as well.
Don't look up HEMI in the Urban Dictionary. That word doesn't involve a muscle car engine.
If you ever visit Mexico City, be sure to walk the PASEO de la Reforma and visit the Museo Nacional de Antropologia. It's the Champs-Elysees of Mexico.
I enjoyed your puzzle, Margaret Saine...I just thought it was a tad easy for a Wednesday. Tell Will I told you so!

Joaquin 6:26 AM  

I found this to be a rather easy Wednesday until I got to the end and had FORM running *smackdab* into FORMED. I was certain it couldn’t be right. And then … C’mon, man!

It would have been so easy to change GIF to GIn and then we’d have nORMED, a fairly obscure word but totally different from form or formed. And “normed” does have the look of a real word (because it is!) so it would be a reasonable guess if one was unfamiliar with it.

QuasiMojo 6:37 AM  

Struggled with this even though I know a little bit about editing. I have just never heard of this EGO person. My one claim to fame is never having seen SNL. And DRACO? I also expected the shaded areas to be some kind of anagram or reverse letters, not just an improvement on the "long-winded" theme.

I wanted SOCKS for the knitting. And thought Minnie's dress should be "Polka-dotted" as clued.

Overall I liked it and found it different and challenging, but needed better EDITING.

Rex, there was and may still be a WaWA's in New Haven, CT. And lots of them here in Florida.

Anonymous 6:38 AM  

The Mahwah Wawa might be the closest to you.

Anonymous 6:40 AM  

FORM/FORMED bugged me too. So did POLKADOT. "Like the" in the cluing demanded POLKADOTted or POLKADOTty. Drop those 2 words and we're good.

Lewis 6:58 AM  

People see the world differently, Rex. I understood that WELL belonged to EDITING with hardly a mental gymnastic, and as an editor, I've seen far worse than this string of words that needed treatment.

The theme is brilliant, IMO, in that it's not merely stating what editing does, but demonstrating it. This takes the theme to a deeper place than mere wordplay, and this is from one who adores wordplay. This brilliant theme blinded me to any objections I might otherwise have with the puzzle, and showed how constructing, as well as editing, can be an art form. Brava, Ms. Margaret!

TJS 7:10 AM  

Just so blah for a Wednesday. I usually resort to the archive on Mondays and Tuesdays to get a brain-exercise to start the day, but is it now going to be a three day neccesity? Is Mr. Shortz just phoning it in these days?

kitshef 7:12 AM  

Theme is pretty bad. Fill is pretty good. Cluing is Tuesday (though I did like the clue for ODD MAN.

Also, Will Shortz seems to have an odd fixation on TACO trucks. Seems like TACO is clued 90% of the time with ‘truck’. It’s a weird association, like cluing “Hebrew” with hot dogs – not just occasionally as a change of pace, but over and over again.

CDilly52 7:40 AM  

Quite an easy Wednesday for me with a simple yet (IMO) elegant theme. @Lewis (as usual) describes it best for those of us who enjoyed it. And I did, but would not have minded a bit of a tussle.

Reader’s Digest 7:44 AM  

Brevity is wit.

Pat 7:46 AM  

Rex loves to point out how few women constructors there are, yet he trashes every puzzle constructed by a woman. Weird!

Hungry Mother 7:47 AM  

Very easy outing. I got the shaded squares early on and did a lot of downs.

pabloinnh 7:48 AM  

Was sailing along until the end of all things, when my ICEOUT, which we say around here sometimes, put the brakes on. Even when a river breaks up suddenly enough to make and ICEJAM, I've never heard the cause being described as an ICERUN. Nearly as rare, I'd say, as a WAWA, which is nonexistent.

Liked the misdirection of "appropriate" as a verb. That was a slowdown.

We take a walk, in Spanish you give a walk (dar un PASEO). Go figure.

Nice debut, MS. I liked your concept just fine.

Anonymous 7:53 AM  

Disagree with the review. I’ve read many sentences more convoluted than the original one in this puzzle. 👍🏻

Anonymous 7:56 AM  

Wawa started in the Philly area and is now in NJ,PA,DE,MD,VA,FL.

Twangster 8:06 AM  

I seriously considered whether the convoluted sentence was a reference to William Zinsser's "On Writing Well":


Z 8:09 AM  

The next quote puzzle I like will be the first quote puzzle I like. I almost put this down when I realized it was a quote. I wish I had. The AVCX is waiting.

@Pat - I know it’s not real obvious, but today’s review rips the editor not the constructor.

SteveF 8:09 AM  

The Form/formed answer just takes the theme to a higher level. Must've given Will Shortz a chuckle.

Anonymous 8:23 AM  

Great puzzle ! Don’t listen to the haters Ms Saine.

Anonymous 8:28 AM  

Great editing job Mr. Shortz.

Brian 8:33 AM  

An annoying and obnoxious theme. Agree with Rex: "The main problem is that the original, unedited sentence is entirely implausible."

Speedweeder 8:38 AM  

Rex: "For me, the main problem is that the original, unedited sentence is entirely implausible that I couldn't make any grammatical sense of it at all while solving, and that even now does not seem like a sentence that any human would ever write—certainly no human that had written well enough in the past to have made it to the stage where they would actually *have* an editor".

That sentence could have benefited from some editing.

You don't have to *have* an editor. Anyone can edit a draft of their own writing.

I thought the theme was clever.

Doug Garr 8:49 AM  

When you start with SHABBY and the answer is CHEESY you know that the NW corner is the last section you're going to finish. When I finally figured out it was AMIGAS and not AMIGOS (it took SCARF to do this) I felt stupid by not immediately thinking the clue was for women and not men. it couldn't have been telegraphed any better, I guess.

RooMonster 8:53 AM  

Hey All !
This puz wins the Most F's In A Puz Award. There's 7! See, constructors, it's not that tough! 😀

Not a hater of quote puzs, wondering how they might've hurt @Z once upon a time. 😋 This one was different in the fact of having a quote inside the quote. It FORMED in there, you might say. Har.

Lived in Milford, CT for about 13 years. Had WAWAs there. There was one on the way home from the bar I hung out at, and my buddy and I would stop there and get their (disgusting) hot dogs as the after drinking food. (They were delicious then!)

Writeovers, ump-REF, sHoddY-CHEESY, BAr-BAN, NAe-NAY.

Odd clue on EYES. Where'd the statues come from? We get SCARF as a knitted thing. It can't be Eaten, as the NYTXW has exclusive rights to SNARF for that.

The ANAGRAM clue was cool. Knew it had the "an" included, cause I'm smart! 🤣


SouthsideJohnny 9:10 AM  

It’s so much fun to listen to Rex parse every theme entry to the same degree that the Warren Commission examined the Zapruder film. I would rather have a theme that creaks and groans a bit with sparking fill as opposed to an airtight theme that so burdens the grid that we end up with a junk-laden garbage scow.

A pretty clean grid today - the clue for ANAGRAM is the crossword equivalent of a “dad joke”. We could go a month without a Harry Potter clue and no one on the planet would care. ACNE filled in for OREO today and LEANN Rhimes pinch-hit admirably for REBA as well.

Nice props to the Golden Bear today, many people don’t realize that even if you subtract every one of his Major victories from his resume, he still would have had an amazing career.

Karl Grouch 9:31 AM  

Quote puzzles are not my hot cupfuls, so I didn't really enjoy this one either.

On top of that, I really felt totally out of sync with the clueing and even when I had the answers it nevert felt rewarding.

A guagua (¿wawa?) ride with plenty of potholes and not a really nice view in sight.

A special thought for all those suffering around the woerld (pun intended) on this International Migrants Day.

jberg 9:32 AM  

No time to read Rex or anyone. I liked some of the clues, detested others. Never heard it called ICE RUN, just ICE oUt, but I like the term. Back much later!

Molded not Formed 9:41 AM  

@jae...Overwording, even it's well stated, can and should be edited. The problem with the themer is that it conflates the two. Is it being edited because of wonky wording (see: Rex)...or because it's way too wordy? It's confusing and therefore poorly executed. I think the shaded squares are alluding to the fact that it's because it was too wordy...not because it was wonky. Don't editors have to consider the style of the writer in their editing? Wonky vis a vis Wordy are two different things, and a good editor would know which to keep. In this case, it appears the "editor" didn't care about either one and wrote his own sentence. That's also bad editing, IMO.

I've lived and worked in NYC and upstate NY before, so I knew about WAWAs...though I've never been to one or even seen one. They are cultishly popular...so I was very surprised, in the land of the bodega, that there wasn't one in NYC. I also knocked around in NJ, from Newark to Ft Lee, and don't recall seeing one there either, or I would have stopped in. They either sell crack there or they diffuse it in the air, because people love that place.

FORMED crossing FORM is definitely a deal breaker for me in this puzzle (the above mention of a wonky themer notwithstanding). I mean really. I don't construct puzzles, but even I know not to do that. I originally had moldED in there, because who would cross form with formed??

I appreciate the tendency by some here to counter Rex's cynicism with overly stated positivism. The puzzle wasn't "brilliant." There were real problems with it. I swear to god many of you secretly love Rex and sublimate that love with hyperbole in opposite direction. It's downright weird.

Crimson Devil 9:47 AM  

ANAGRAM seems quite a stretch, but liked it. Liked APPROPRIATE more.

Gerry Kelly 9:49 AM  

for WAWA could have used a Gilda Radner character Barbara ____ !she is missed.

OffTheGrid 9:52 AM  

When I read your comment it made me think of Cal. Then I googled "Nicklaus nickname" just for fun. A picture of him appears that immediately made me think of Jim Carrey in Dumb & Dumber. Try it.

Nancy 9:53 AM  

Writers, especially writers of fiction, are always told "Show, don't tell". The constructor has done this brilliantly by showing an example of unimaginably bad writing and then showing how to EDIT it. (Hint: Get rid of almost all of it.)

The problem is that the unedited sentence is so horrendously bad that word pattern recognition -- i.e. what you need in order to solve any quote puzzle -- is almost impossible here. I could have solved it easily through crosses if I hadn't had ALTA instead of ALTO at 5A. Leaving me with aD??A? for the "one who's out." This baffled me for, like, forever -- until I changed the A to an O and saw ODD MAN. (What a well-clued answer, btw). And I didn't know LEANN or WAWA.

Worse, I had EDITING for a 2nd time where WRITING should have been. That's because I couldn't make any sense of the sentence. EDITING was the ART FORM, right? So of course I had EDITING A 2nd time. Didn't you? And thus, it seemed as though Jack Nicklaus had won the dUNNE cUP 19 times.

I admire the concept of the puzzle, but I didn't find it enjoyable to solve for all the aforementioned reasons.

Michiganman 10:00 AM  

Another clue for WAWA is "Lake Superior town" (in Ontario, 150 miles north of Sault Ste. Marie)

puzzlehoarder 10:16 AM  

I hated everything about this puzzle from beginning to end. Even before I came across the 17A clue that let me know this was going to be another damn quip/quote puzzle there was not one but two instances of Spanish entries with those will it be an A or an O type of ending.

Next I spot the 21A clue and I'm convinced the printer is on the blink again. That gibberish looks exactly like a misprint and I'm especially peeved I missed it and a forced work around screws up my time. When the crosses formed MORSE I was ready to throw the puzzle away.

Getting a dnf by entering FIND at 34 D was the icing on the hate cake. At first I thought it might be the name Willis and then that it might concern the will to write or maybe writing legal wills. That the whole point of the quote is that it's supposed to be illegible muddied things even more.

I had to work around that damn WAWA and even though both GIF and DRACO were gimmes they irked me on behalf of those who would find them difficult.

Hopefully before this constructor or any other gets the idea to do one of these quote puzzles they will step in front of a bus.

Ethan Taliesin 10:19 AM  

Brevity is the soul of wit.. or as I like to say, b/w

Kathy 10:24 AM  

I spent a good ten minutes of tussling in a small section in the north. Part of the problem, shame on me, was that I didn’t spy our old friend ACNE hiding in plain sight. I also assumed the waste management term had a prefix of re-, thus missing REDUCE also hiding in plain sight. Even after I got these, I was still perplexed at the improbable EDITING A DRAFT OF WRITING WELL.

I kept playing around with a couple stray squares and was actually caught off guard when “Congratulations!” popped up because the theme just sounded so clunky. Only after reading Rex’s writeup did I realize that this was the point.

I thought Rex was a good read today. And, despite the confusion, I finished and enjoyed the puzzle too. Easy to medium Wednesday for me.

Just don’t ask for an oil change at a WAWA. And in NJ, don’t touch that pump, self service is illegal. Go figure.

Gerry Kelly 10:28 AM  

he trashes the male constructors pretty well too! that's why we read him.

BobL 10:30 AM  

WELL, I liked it, especially the two FORMS of editing.

mathgent 10:35 AM  

I think that the NYT puzzles prefer a fresh theme done whichever way to a classic theme done well. Compare the WSJ dailies. This is a good example. It's close to a botch.

I liked @SteveF's comment (8:09) suggesting that crossing FORMED and ...FORM was Shortz throwing in another example of something that needed editing. That would have been a nice meta, but I think that he would have made reference to it in the clue to 44D.

I liked the clues for ANAGRAM and RUNNERUP and that's about it.

Newboy 10:38 AM  

First congratulations to Ms Saine as a debut constructor in the NYT, an accomplishment that most solvers are reluctant to even imagine let alone achieve. Thanks to @Lewis for a succinct positive response as we expect to dilute the bile of Rex. Personally, I agree that the SE corner isn’t a blazing success— maybe clue cORMED as crocus-like? then play a bit? Actually today’s puzzle & response motivates me to drag out my dog eared Elements of Style for a nostalgic reread, always like On Writing Well a good reminder.

Rita 10:39 AM  

I’m a retired technical writer and this puzzle made me smile.
One of my pleasures reading this blog is seeing how thoughtful people can disagree (mostly thoughtfully). Will catches a lot of grief, but I think his main skill is finding things that appeal to different tastes and abilities.

The Clerk 10:47 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 11:02 AM  

@Kathy - Our much beloved former Governor, Chris Christie, thought that pumping gas was too complicated a task for us, his citizens. I'm thinking a little projection on his part there, along with confusing "complicated" with "strenuous".

Malsdemare 11:24 AM  

I doubt I’m the only one to point this out but: Rex, not all editing involves authors of serious books, i.e. literature. I edit for a textbook company and the authors they recruit are often excellent teachers for whom writing is not natural or easy. That poorly placed WELL is exactly why I get the big bucks; messes like that are pretty frequent.

The puzzle was fine; not scintillating or “groansome,” just a pleasant diversion on a cold, cold day. Only a couple pop culture references, which always pleases me. Clues like “Latest cast member of GOT to die” drive me round the bend; I KNOW that I will have to wait for most, if not all, the crosses. Here it was just EGO. By the way, who would name their child that? Do they have a second child named ID? Not that I can cast aspersions—Mr. Mal, last name Klaus, has a cousin who named his daughter Sandy (eye roll).

Now to see how much I duplicated what others who get up earlier than I said first — and perhaps — better.

Masked and Anonymous 11:56 AM  

I'd vote that the FORM/FORMED crossin was intentional. FORMED becomes sorta ok to be there, once FORM is edited out by the theme mcguffin. Besides, U coulda also edited the 3-part theme sentence down to EDIT FART, sooo … QED.

I'm not real big on quote/quip type themes, but this one was so different that I kinda liked it a little bit.
I'da gone with GOOD instead of WELL within the quote, tho. Might as well go all in, on yer bad writin habits. M&A sure oughta know.

scenic fillin hi-lites included: POLKADOT. WATERSKI. SCARF. USURP.
staff weeject pick: EGO. Primo new way to clue this little crossword commoner. Needed the G, to recall her name. Lost a coupla precious nanoseconds.

Luv/Luved the MORSE clue, spellin itself out in code! …. .- .-.
Not so fond of the French-in-the-blanks-clued MISE. Gettin awful tired of that nasty recently-added cluin convention. Don't make m&e come down there, Shortzmeister.

Thanx, Ms. Saine darlin. And congratz on yer debut.

Masked & Anonymo6Us


Jersey Joe 11:58 AM  

Christe is an easy target, of course, but the NJ gas pumping deal was in place since long before he grew out of (XXL) short pants

Geezer 12:11 PM  

@Malsdemare. You remind me of a Christmas riddle. How is Christmas like a cat at the beach?*

*They both have Sand(t)y Clau(w)s.

albatross shell 12:18 PM  

b/w Ha! Good one.
Do not understand hate for quote puzzles, as long as the clues allow for the fact that many words can be only solved by crosses and imagination. I certainly got off to a slow start today because of this, but once I got good toeholds it went quickly enough.

I somewhat enjoyed the editing theme. Just delete. Best way to edit.

My feeling was the form-formed cross was simply bad editing and not meta-joke. Who knows? Who's talking?

I often stop at the Wawa at the intersection of Interstate 80 and NE extension of the Pa. Turnpike. It is a perfect old man piss stop from home when ever I`m going to NYC or Philly. Once when returning from Brooklyn at 1 am after a Peter Stampfel Jeffery Lewis concert, my alternator light turned on just as I entered the Brooklyn Manhattan tunnel and onto the Holland tunnel. I made it to the Wawa before the lights got too dim to drive. I slept in their parking lot until daylight. When the car started up in the morning, I figured I might as well see how close to home I could get. The car died just as a pulled in the driveway. I felt just like Kramer in that Seinfeld episode endlessly trying to get to the next exit after the needle hit empty on the gas gauge. Driving on to my last amp.

Got RUNNERUP from just the P. Fun clue. Only logical answer.

RooMonster 12:19 PM  

EGO walks into a bar. Bartender says, "I need to see some ID."

Ba da boom.

RooMonster Bad Joke Guy

Carola 12:30 PM  

Liked the theme, admired the construction (one edited segment per theme line), had a bit of a struggle (that center line: for a while I I even entertained the possibility of an INk WELL).

In the "how wrong can you go" department: I read "East Coast 7-Eleven competitor" as a sports clue (akin to "Midwestern Big 12 competitor") and couldn't come up with a 4-letter answer.The first W of WAWA was my last letter in...and I still thought, "That's a nickname for a school?"

@Molded not Formed - I liked what you said about wordy and wonky. I edit a newsletter, each issue of which includes a column by one of the artistic directors of the organization, both of whom are delightfully wonky and neither of whom understands the concept of a word count. I adore the challenge of using my editing scalpel to excise the wordiness while maintaining the wonkiness.

Paul & Kathy 12:41 PM  

Re: 24D. Thanks. I had no idea what that was about until you said it. But my brain doesn't let me see anagrams for some reason, so any puzzle with them is hopeless for me. I solved it with the crosses.

Anoa Bob 12:47 PM  

Many moons ago I got up to the 12-words-per-minute level in Morse code (which is quite slow), so I thought clueing MORSE with the dot-dash pattern that spells it out wasn't CHEESY or RINKY at all. Does anyone, anywhere use MORSE Code anymore?

Having WATER SKI and ICE DAM together in the grid FORMED a jarring image for me. Maybe that happens MISE en ALPS.

Even though Freud's system was dropped from mainstream psychiatry and psychology over 50 years ago, it still has holding power for some. To wit, in today's comments alone, we have "sublimation", "projection", "EGO" and "Id".

Seasons greetings and happy holidays to all mis AMIGAS y amigos out there in crosswordworld.

jb129 1:04 PM  

I didn't know "Wawa" but I enjoyed this. Kept me going for awhile - thank you Ms. Saine.

Frantic Sloth 1:04 PM  

I’d just like to know why EYES are the “unrealistic part of most statues”? Seems to me that an argument can be made for any part of a statute being unrealistic - or am I overthinking it?? Perhaps I’m being too literal about unrealistic?

Please make me stop typing “unrealistic”.

Teedmn 1:23 PM  

I found myself nodding along to M&A's comment today, both on the topic of FORM/FORMED and the not minding a quote puzzle in this case because it was an interesting twist. And I thank him for interpreting the dit/dot/dashes into MORSE for me. It reminds me of my mother's story of someone wondering what Que Sera Sera means in the song (or "Sont les mots qui vont tres bien ensemble" in "Michelle") except this time, I'm the dunce!

No Wawa stores around here so that was a WOE.

I did like the ANAGRAM clue - it gave me an image of some poor, sick tourist looking for a Hospital icon on a road sign in a foreign country. This led me to wonder if there were a globally recognizable symbol for Hospital. I failed to find one after a short Google search, which doesn't bode well for the ill traveler.

Margaret Saine, congratulations on your debut in the NYT.

Teedmn 1:36 PM  

@QuasiMojo, SOCKS, FYI, would be the last thing I would give a noob knitter - mastering DPs (double-pointed needles) is not for the faint of heart. A scarf, on the other hand, is flat and can be done with only one stitch - if done in garter stitch, the knitter doesn't even need to purl.

David 1:47 PM  

@Speedweeder, I was laughing out loud trying to parse Rex's horrific sentence. Hopefully that was his point.

@RooMonster, good one

I'm surprised so many people here don't edit their own writings before hitting "send," perhaps thinking they need to hire somebody to do so.

I liked this puzzle fine, I even thought the cross of "formed" and "form" was cool. The 426 Hemi was the definition of an engine to have in a muscle car, that made me smile. A little too easy for a Wednesday from where I sit.

Anonymous 2:26 PM  

To me, EGO was a total Natick. I had no idea whether it was EGO or EGi, and EDITING A DRAFT iF WRITING WELL ... was more plausible than the constructor's version!

I have spent a fair amount of time in places that can have ICE jams in the Spring (often quite damaging ones) and have never heard one being called an ICE RUN. But at least that was gettable from the crosses.

QuasiMojo 2:52 PM  

@Teedmn, I guess I had watched too many movies of newlyweds knitting socks for their soon-to-be baby. :) Thx for the advice! (I've received some of those scarves over the years. Usually long enough to climb a wall with.

tea73 2:56 PM  

I got WAWA on the crosses and then looked to see what the clue was. Knew them from summers at the Delaware shore. I don't like quotes, but I liked the theme here. Agree the FORM crossing was bad FORM.

Anonymous 3:18 PM  

Love that trashin'!

Hartley70 3:24 PM  

I found this an elegant theme, beautifully done.

I’ve never seen a WAWA IN New England, but perhaps there are no Cumberland Farms or Stewart’s further south on the coast.

FORM/FORMED didn’t bother me in the least.

The sun is shining on the ice in the trees so I’m not cranky like some people.

Hungry Mother 3:41 PM  

WaWa is my goto place for gas in in and around its home base near Media, PA, southern New Jersey where I can’t pump my own gas, Delaware where I live half of the year, and Florida where I live the other half. They also have great hoagies. The cult part is their breakfast crowd which is a sight to see. A WaWa parking lot seems like a traffic circle in Paris.

Anonymous 4:44 PM  

Our much beloved former Governor, Chris Christie, thought that pumping gas was too complicated a task for us, his citizens.

If memory serves, it's been too complicated since gas was used in cars. checking the wiki... "In New Jersey self-service fuel filling is illegal. It was banned in 1949 after lobbying by service station owners."

That and all those refineries owned by Big Gas.

First, and only, Wawa I know is in Bryn Mawr. Along with a lot of girls who prefer girls. Don't know which is more disappointing.

Unknown 5:14 PM  

Right-ho. Way to ez 4 wednes. I like 2 suffer thru these things.

bigsteve46 6:54 PM  

Do some people actually like pumping their own gas? Why? As a lifetime NY resident, I always thought the New Jersey law on gas pumping quite refreshing - and a provider of a few jobs for the marginally employable - and, NJ gas was always cheaper, too (less so now than before, but still a little less). Not too much in NJ worthy of praise - but this civilized practice gives the Garden State something to be proud of!

wilsch 7:47 PM  

Wawa is the best convenience store anywhere. Wawa is Lenni Lenape for "wild goose". A southeastern Pennsylvania classic.

xyz 7:54 PM  

There are tons of WAWAs in NJ and PA and they are a decent place to get a sandwich.

Gas pump jockeys in OREGON as well

Monty Boy 9:19 PM  

I liked this one a lot. Practice with cryptograms helps with quote/saying puzzles. Get a few crosses and words start to form.

Regarding the Morse Code question about who uses it: I've heard that John McCain and the other POWs in Viet Nam communicated from cell to cell at night using Morse Code. Maybe some or all military learn it along the way? A little help here?

Anonymous 9:46 PM  

Nope. Rex is beefing the construction. That the constructor uses editor/editing in the puzzle has obviously focused me. For once, Sharp's beef isn't with Shortz.

Anonymous 9:54 PM  

Besides the longest stretch of white sand beaches in the country, the statue of liberty,the highest per capita income, Princeton University, and Cape May, arguably the best place for birding in the country, you're right. NJ has nothing to for it.

Margaret in New Jersey 10:59 PM  

Hey, Mahwah Wawa is MY joke! Along with Mahwah fatwa.

Linda 6:56 PM  

There's even a Wawa in DC.

Unknown 3:21 AM  

21A clue should reference the detective who loved the crossword.

WilsonCPU 9:02 AM  

Frantic Sloth -
In most marble statues, the colored parts of the eyes are “indented” to cause a shadow, which makes them look darker (as expected).
If they are left the more “accurate” exdented, they just look white. Either way, something is wrong/unrealistic. I think that’s what the clue is getting at....

Burma Shave 10:27 AM  


YES MAAM, it's RINKY-dink and CHEESY,
and it CAUSED a FOLKSY outrage:
LEANN's EYES say she's easy,
and it's TRUE she's a COED OFAGE.


if you care, yesterday's is finally posted, connectivity issues

spacecraft 12:08 PM  

I was looking around for "the" author of this "quote," assuming someone had actually said this. No, it turned out to be generic. Then I had to ask myself: why? Am I missing something? The gray squares "EDIT" a bloated statement--wait for it--about "EDITING." That's IT?? Perhaps the whole damn thing could have been "EDITED" with a rejection slip.

I am a member in good standing of the Not-The-Biggest-Fans-Of-Quote-Puzzles Club, in case you haven't surmised that. The bloat was so badly written that it made the puzzle fairly hard to solve, for the day. Medium leaning toward challenging; some triumph points attend. DOD is LEANN Rimes, with an honorable mention shoutout to Honor Blackman who played Pussy GALORE. (It's amazing what Fleming got away with naming his Bond girls:

BOND: But of course you are.)

One writeover when I polarized my PANDA bear--because the phrase PANDA bear is green paint. The creature is a PANDA, period. At least with "polar," you need the "bear." Playing the CRAB is more than I can bear, so: bogey.

leftcoaster 2:41 PM  

Maybe this has been mentioned before, but the book titled "On Writing Well" is by the late writer and editor William Zinsser. WRITING WELL, without the "On", seems to me close enough to Zinsser's title to clarify the apparent confusion in the theme.

Granted, that may be a bit too much of a stretch, but it make enough sense to me.

Sharon AK 3:16 PM  

I was amazed that so many thought this puzzle easy. I found it it harder than any Wednesday I can remember. Eventually gave up and just came here to see the answers

AGREE TOTALLy with Rex that the quote was implausible. Since it made no sense I couldn't be sure I had the crosses right

Agree with anonymous who said the clue for Polka dot was wrong as worded.

rainforest 3:21 PM  

I too had a problem with the placement of the word WELL before I had the full quote/musing. But once I got it, it seemed to me that the quote was giving an example of its meaning. A bad sentence edited. And, a la @M&A, the word FORM is essentially edited out paving the way for FORMED to be rightfully there. Maybe that's a little bit of tortuous logic, but it seems OK to me.

So this puzzle was a different sort of quote puzzle, and I admire the attempt to be different. It included many sprightly answers in the fill, as well. It isn't often that a puzzle attempts to try new things, and that basis alone, I liked it.

Diana, LIW 3:50 PM  

I own many books on writing. Including one that states, "Avoid run-on sentences they are hard to read."

Any quote in a crossword grid runs the run-on risk.

But, for puzzling sake, this sentence can stand, and made the solve fairly easy. Of could have been if, but the SNL person had a clear sense of self. I guess.

And remember. The passive voice should never be used.

Diana, Waiting, still waiting

thefogman 4:27 PM  

Rex is wrong about no human ever writing such a convoluted sentence. Just pick up a daily newspaper and you will find a plethora of sentences badly in need of editing. Most major dailies don’t have real editors doing the editing anymore. That task is often left to the reporter, which saves money but results in poor, and often unreadable, copy.

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