Sticker on green products / TUE 6-23-20 / Group on top of loose football / Bellicose Greek god / Forrest Gump's favorite soft drink / Means of climbing over rural fences

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Constructor: Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (3:20-something, though I had not one but two typos I had to track down)

THEME: STRAIGHT EDGES (14D: Rulers, e.g. ... or what the letters in 3-, 7-, 27- and 34-Down all have) — if you write them in sans-serif caps, the left edges of all the letters in the themers are all straight (i.e. letters in themers are drawn entirely from the set: BDEFHKLNPR. According to "Notes" on the puzzle:
In the print version of this puzzle, each square in 3-, 7-, 27- and 34-Down contains a short vertical line in the left half of the square.
Theme answers:

  • KEEBLER ELF (3D: Mascot on cookie boxes)
  • FEEL FREE (34D: "Be my guest!")
  • DR PEPPER (7D: Forrest Gump's favorite soft drink)
  • "REBEL REBEL" (27D: David Bowie hit with the lyric "You've torn your dress, your face is a mess")
Word of the Day: RAREFY (13D: Make thinner, as air) —

1to make rare, thin, porous, or less dense to expand without the addition of matter

2to make more spiritual, refined, or abstruse (
• • •

This is one of those ideas you have when you're just brainstorming and you jot it down in your notebook and you realized it can't possibly produce a joyful result so you scrap it. Or, you don't, I guess. Not sure how you get away with a theme like this. Must be nice. Yeesh. Look, the theme does Not work electronically, which is how So Many people solve now, so it's a giant F.U. to them, and honestly, even if I was solving this on paper, I'd resent the NYTXW putting in little "vertical lines" for me to use like a little trellis on which to build the rest of the letters that go in those squares. I wonder how many people started solving and just wrote in the letters to the side of the damned "vertical lines" only to realize later on, "oh, I was supposed to ... make letters ... that incorporated those lines ... huh." "REBEL REBEL" is a great song and I'm never going to object to seeing Bowie in the grid, but the fact that you have a to repeat a word to get this theme to be In Any Way interesting tells you something.

The fill seems ok. ET TU, TUTEE is making me laugh, in a "so bad it's good" way, though ... that SW really isn't good. I had PLEAT before DRAPE (7A: Arrange in folds). I wrote in RARIFY and BORE instead of RAREFY and BORN, so that was bad work on my part. RAREFY just looks so awfully wrong. Also, the clue ... [Make thinner, as air]? ... that is so weird. "We need to RAREFY this air, stat!" I only ever (and I mean Only Ever) hear the word used adjectivally, in the purely metaphorical phrase "rarefied air." I think of that air as being the effect of high elevation, like "la-di-dah, look at you up there ... breathing your rarefied air like some kind of duchess ..." Actually, I would never use the phrase. The point is, it's hard to imagine someone "rarefying" anything, least of all air. I'm not sure I ever saw "Crash," and when I think of the expansive oeuvre of Mr. Brendan FRASER, that movie doesn't come to mind; luckily, there aren't that many actors named Brendan, so FRASER came quickly enough. ERR ERSE ERNST ELSE OER ONO EBB SELA ETTU ATIT TUTEE this could've been cleaner. Much cleaner. Big come-down after yesterday's nifty number.

iconic FRASER
See you tomorrow.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:06 AM  

Probably more fun for the constructor than for the solver. Pretty tricky to construct as all the themers were limited to the vowel "E", so that took some 'doing'. The rest of it, pretty typical Tuesday fare.

chefwen 12:28 AM  

What an odd theme, which I never would have gotten. Thank you Rex. I don’t know how he would have done it with the revealer being all straight edged, but that would have been better.

We had a high school and college buddy who’s claim to fame was the ability to stand against a wall, STRAIGHT up and could balance two beer bottles on his BEER GUT. Didn’t do much for me.

Super easy puzzle, just lost on the theme.

Runs with Scissors 12:39 AM  



Other than that, it was a straightforward Tuesday. It didn't fight very hard.

REBEL REBEL known. Idiotic song. Much of Bowie is less than interesting even to us geezers of his age.

I've been in RAREFIED air. It's so . . . clarifying. You take a step, gasp, rest, take another step, rinse, repeat... The top of Mt San Antonio (aka Mt Baldy above Los Angeles) is one such place.

Fun puz, not much thinking required. Typical Tuesday, and I liked it. Onward!

Harryp 12:44 AM  

Wish I didn't read the so-called explanation before starting the puzzle. I was thinking of a vertical line in the first square of those clues named, and thinking rebus, so when 1A clued as set a price of, I wanted ASK/of, or ASK/for. Luckily, rather than get too involved in that thought, I finished the puzzle without a rebus and got the happy tone.

albatross shell 12:57 AM  

I rarely, that is to say never, wrote nor remember seeing rarefy. Rarify, yes. But rarify is the alternative spelling. Live and learn. Then forget. Spellchecker hates both. Rarified, Rarefied. Hmm. Spellchecker likes only the latter. Lit almost fits the crossing clue. Add a little greenpaint and it does. Made it hard to get the music. But I finally gave E a chance.

PERSE dooked me briefly.

I thought ECOLA BEL was something you rang to warn of a new pandemic.

Ty Kaplan 1:31 AM  

I loved today’s puzzle and yesterday’s. I just started a YouTube series of real time crossword solves and reviews. I’d love to get feedback from this community!

Here’s today’s:

egsforbreakfast 1:51 AM  

I have all the respect in the world for Jeff Chen. He is one of the lords of the xword world, and we all owe him many hosannas for maintaining the vital This puzzle, however, really sucked. It shows how far we have sunk into computerized word lists and analytics when a well established and respected constructor would resort to using straight left edge letters as a theme. This is so far from captivating, or even interesting, that I’m surprised I finished it. Could there be a puzzle coming wherein the themers utilize only letters with no straight left sides? Or how about one where all of the themers are made of letters that exhibit mirror symmetry? I wasn’t thrilled with the fill for that matter, but the theme idea was the worst I can ever remember.

I still love you Jeff.

Frantic Sloth 2:24 AM  

Maybe those of you who have inside knowlEDGE of crossword construction can illuminate for me what is so special about this theme.
Because I can barely keep my eyes open just thinking about it. Words with letters that have STRAIGHTEDGES. Is that it? Sing out, Peggy!

What's next? Words that make sentences? Words that get written down? Words that spell words?

I thought it was a little testy for a Tuesdee, too. Not a lot to recommend here, sad to say. Since Jeff Chen is one of the titans in this sport, I would have liked to at least stay awake, let alone be impressed. Sorry.

And those lines Rex was going on about didn't show up on the online puzzle. It was only when I looked at it in PuzzAzz that I saw what he meant.
I guess it improves things a bit, but not nearly enough. For whatever reason, I doubt I'd be offended by them like OFL, who hasn't posted an Alfie pic in too long!

I'm too bored to write anymore and this entire comment is drowsing me, so that's it for me.

Hope you all enjoyed this one because somebody's got to. 😕


tkincher 2:30 AM  

I also snagged on RAREFY.

I guessed on FRASER as well, but it would have been more fun to clue him for something like "Doom Patrol" instead. Crash was kind of an awful and pandering movie, a bad choice for best picture, and also not nearly as interesting as the Cronenberg movie of the same name that came out eight years prior.

2004's Crash is like 2000's Traffic if you took away all of the depth and nuance but kept Don Cheadle.

NB 2:50 AM  

Found this incredibly difficult for a Tuesday - could barely get started and couldn't finish.

TokyoRacer 2:54 AM  

Exactly! Just squeezed in the letters next to the lines. Even after I knew what the theme was, the purpose of the lines just didn't register and were annoying.

Anonymous 3:02 AM  

Not sure why people are complaining about rarefy, that’s how you spell it. Even my phone isn’t complaining. I thought it was an ok theme and puzzle, better than yesterday’s at least.

Hartley70 3:24 AM  

I certainly haven’t seen this theme before, but I have to admit I found it a little strange. I think I prefer the app version where I wasn’t spoon fed the little line, thank you very much. Yes, the letters have a line. Aside from that it was a perfectly fine Tuesday. It only led me briefly astray once because I’m an “i not an e” person when it comes to RAREFYing things.

Brenton 3:49 AM  

Enjoyed most of this. Got oddly stuck on a couple words that I really should have known.

The theme was fine, not sure what the issue is. Or maybe I just like Minor Threat a lot.

When I first started reading this blog it seemed like it was maybe half fun, half complaints, but right now it just seems like mostly complaints. Let's have fun with these silly puzzles!

jae 4:05 AM  

Medium. Like yesterday’s I needed to stare a bit at the finished grid to grok the theme (no extra lines in my iPad grid). Me too for RARIFY but LiT made no sense.

Liked it more than @Rex did, the long downs had some sparkle and the theme was off the beaten path.

Diver 5:26 AM  

Not really sure this qualifies as a theme; but the revealer came late in the grid and I usually ignore them anyway so OK, I give it a pass as a themeless Tuesday.

amyyanni 6:04 AM  

Lazy me enjoyed having some help with my puzzle. Clues made me laugh.

ChuckD 6:09 AM  

Just like yesterday this played as a themeless for me - the straightedge idea just doesn’t work on my phone. The fill was not bad - a few annoying shorties here and there but overall enjoyable. Liked the NW just fine - BEERGUTS/EGRETS and CLEARCUT/RAREFY. Lots of propers today - including our friend Yoko clued another way. They were all were easy gets for me but I think definitely approaching @Z’s limit.

Lewis 6:25 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 6:39 AM  

Wordplay theme, playing on the word STRAIGHTEDGE -- simple theme appropriate for Tuesday, and Jeff put a lot of thought and energy into how to present it (read his comments on XwordInfo).

He had 10 consonants and one vowel to work with and I think he chose the liveliest answers of what was available (again, you can see the possibilities in XwordInfo, in Jim Horne's comment), except for, maybe, FRED MERKLE.

I'm not surprised we have a mini-theme of double E's (6), given the one-vowel theme, and there's another mini-theme of theme-answer-wannabees: Straight-edged words that weren't long enough to be grouped with the big boys (EBB, ERR, END, LEE).

I pretty much ripped through this, but didn't miss the lovely and/or lively BEER GUTS, CLEAR CUT, LEAPFROG, DOG PILE (as clued), FEEL FREE, and RATCHET. I like having RAREFY and RICE CAKE in the same grid, as the latter, in my mind, seems to be made mostly of rarefied air.

I think this was a fun and excellent Tuesday puzzle, giving newer solvers the idea that tricky things can be done in a grid. Thank you, Sir Jeff!

Lobster11 6:58 AM  

CONSTRUCTOR: "Looky what I can do with one hand tied behind my back!"

ME: "How nice for you. Now untie your damned hand and make me a decent puzzle."

Hungry Mother 7:01 AM  

Fast enough, especially when I saw that RARiFY was wrong and we don’t LiT people do things. DOH moment.

What? 7:16 AM  

Zipped through but theme was pretty poor so all in all, a waste of time.

kitshef 7:18 AM  

Surprised at the end of this puzzle to find that RAREFY is spelt that way, rather than RARiFY.

@Brenton 3:49 - Rex comes in for a lot of criticism for negative puzzle reviews. My theory is the more you solve, the more things you get tired of seeing. Starting out, everything is new and fresh. Before long, you start rolling your eyes at directions like NNW and “tic tac tow rows like OXO.

Soon you start to grimace when you see the likes of EKES and OREO and ERR so frequently. Then you get sick of abbreviations and names that only one person has so it has to be clued the same way every time (ONO, IRIE, IDRIS)

Ten years go by, and a typical Tuesday puzzle has a dozen things that you just never want to see again.

And that’s when your eye starts straying towards other puzzles – whose editors probably have their own irritating repetitions, but to you it seems exciting and new. You stay with the puzzle you committed to, but start to feel disconnected and resentful. You have a series of emotional affairs with younger puzzles: Fireball today, New Yorker next month, AVC next year.

JJ 7:19 AM  

How many of you have considered the shape of words? Yesterday we had a word that sounds like 3letters. I think it’s great when we get to appreciate how constructors look more deeply at things that we all take for granted.
I too was stymied until I changed the I to an E in RAREFY.
My solve on an iPad clearly demonstrated the STRAIGHT EDGE theme—-and thanks Lewis for reminding me of Fred Merle.

Cali Phat 7:43 AM  

I thought the theme was going to be ALL E'S or some such rubbish. I'm still shaking my head over Straight Edges. Okay...

Too many names. And SOUSE is awful. Get woke, Jeff.

Jill 7:49 AM  

rarEfy?? I don’t think so.

Jim McConnell 7:55 AM  

I had rarify (another accepted spelling of rarefy) crossing lit. I thought lit was a shortening of greenlit.

pabloinnh 8:01 AM  

So I went to print this out and saw immediately that it was going to be a printed version that cut off the whole left edge, including the numbers and first parts of more than half of the across clues. Annoying. It did have the vertical lines in the boxes though. Heck with that, I did it online, no vertical lines, but the revealer made clear what they were there for, so printing it out was not a waste of time. Phew.

OK theme, constructor had fun, different. I'm in the Oops Club for RARE/IFY. With a group of champion spellers such as ourselves, it's rare if I may say so.

Thanks for all you do in Crossworld, JC, and this was Tuesdayish enough for me.

Anonymous 8:16 AM  

See that BITEME makes another appearance. Does this mean that “blow me” would be an allowable entry? If not, why not?

GILL I. 8:25 AM  

Tuesday? You call this Tuesday? This wasn't no Tuesday. You zipped through this? You know all those names? Why is a DOG PILE not something you pick up when you take you fur ball children out for a walk?
FEEL FREE to just jump in here and 'splain to this never in a million years RICE CAKE broad.
I download the puzzle every night at 7 - just as Alex Trebek interrupts his contestants on how their French pronunciations are wrong, and yeah, I had little lines. I thought cool beans. I mean, we have Jeff Chen, right? Oof. Why don't I know what the hell David Bowie had in mind when he tore someone's dress and told them their face was a mess. I know Forrest liked those boxes of chocolates and all but I didn't know he drank that vile DR PEPPER I just noticed ERSE ERNST ELSE. I'll buy AN E, please
It's sad when the few things I got were SOUSE and BEER GUT and BITE ME. I don't drink BEER and I only had one of those things carrying my two wee ones before they were BORN. Can't you have those big gut things if you just eat too much? Why is beer the culprit....
I like ECO and all that stuff because I'm ever mindful of trying to keep our planet clean but I HAVE NEVER EVER seen an ECO LABEL on my avocados.
Wasn't there a nurse RATCHET somewhere?

@Runs with Scissors...Glad you're back. Every time I make some "Cubano" at the same time I do a puzzle, I think of you and a sandwich that only the Gods could come up with.... ;-)

Flinque 8:53 AM  

What is PERSE ?

Steph 8:58 AM  

@rex - I thought for sure you’d let em have it for “souse”. Ugh. Offensive. Then pairing it with”bar tab”. Boo.

Carola 9:01 AM  

Lest I damn the theme with faint praise, I'll just say that I was also squeezing in my letters to the right of the verticals, until I realized I'd been provided with the STRAIGHT EDGES of the downward strokes. This resulted in 1) a much neater bottom tier and 2) helping me get REBEL REBEL, which I hadn't heard of. I had more fun with BEER GUTS, CALIPH, SURE BETS, VEILED, RAREFY, and especially...

...DOG PILE - I don't think I've come across the word since the 1950's when we kids used to fall into one - not over a football, but just for the heck of it. In fact, when tired of playing LEAP FROG, someone might yell, "DOG PILE!".

Nancy 9:04 AM  

I had two very strong reactions to this puzzle:

Before figuring out the gimmick: Go away, you stupid vertical lines!! You are in my way! I'm writing letters here. Get lost!!

After figuring out the gimmick: Thanks, but I don't need any help in forming my letters. I've been doing it all by my lonesome, and without assistance, since kindergarten.


This is just about the dumbest idea for a puzzle that I've ever seen.

Pamela 9:06 AM  

Hands up for Rarify, Pleat, Bore. Never heard of Keebler Elf. I solved in the app today, so the theme was meaningless to me. Rex is back to normal, after two days as someone else. Appropriately so, in my book.

I did love seeing Bowie today, though. He was so cool. After I read the clue, the song played in my head for the rest of the solve. Still does. I remember Iman as a model. Right from the beginning, she was very down to earth in spite of her starry status, and seemed wiser than her years. I worked with her many times, at first mainly for editorial shoots, then as time went on for more commercial clients, and always enjoyed her company. I thought she and Bowie made a great pair.

Whatsername 9:13 AM  

Will this was different. Not so much a theme PERSE, as just a little Tuesday trickery. I solve on paper so had the little trellis lines Rex described and - as he suspected - they were highly annoying. I get it but found them very distracting and kept thinking that there was an “I” where there was actually an empty square. The finished grid looks really nice with the letters all precisely aligned, but it would have been a much more pleasant solve without them.

Some interesting fill today with BITEME, REBELREBEL and the KEEBLERELF. TUTEE sounds like part of a little rhyme my dad used to say whenever we had beans for dinner. I saw a priceless OPTIC from the Tulsa Trump rally of a man sitting in the upper section completely surrounded by empty seats. I bet there were more than a few BEERGUTS in that arena.

@GILL (8:25) If the gods make sandwiches, I think there must be a couple of them living in your kitchen.

George 9:14 AM  

BEERGUTS hanging out at the bar made the puzzle for me. The rest of the crap didn't matter. It was only reading Rex's write up that I remembered who Brendan FRASER is, and I used to think he was so hot back in the last century. No BEERGUT on him, that's for sure.

Z 9:21 AM  

Going along feeling grumpy about this Tuesday puzzle that so assiduously tuezzes and then I read @kitshef 7:18 and his perfect metaphor and can’t help but smile.

Hand up for never once before this morning considering why air is RAREFied. Oh, like “made rare.” Alrighty then. Like @Jim McConnell I talked myself into LiT so a Tuesday DNF. I have seen RAREFY, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen RARiFY, too and others are saying it’s an acceptable variant. A tennis clue for LET would have helped me not DNF.

I was disappointed at the STRAIGHT EDGES clue. Being STRAIGHT EDGE is definitely something of this century, so an opportunity lost at being current. It would have taken a little reworking, but I would have liked to have seen it.

@Runs - To say I disagree would be an understatement.

@Barbara S last night - Just poking fun. Homographs, especially homographs that aren’t homophones, should really count twice, dontcha think? For future reference, any comment I make about the spelling bee should just assumed to be snarky. Spelling, anagrams, Scrabble, any other puzzle that involves spelling comes in around #2,000 on my top ten list of interesting ways to spend my time. I do appreciate that all of you who enjoy it give the warnings. Much appreciated.

David 9:24 AM  

@flinque it's "per se" "by or in itself, intrinsically" Also a very expensive Restaurant of Thomas Keller's.

I found this okay and even kind of fun. I ignored the theme, as usual. In fact, since on line the theme boxes light up I tried to not look at the clues and just fill them in on crosses, but I already had Keebler Elfs and couldn't possibly miss Rebel Rebel. The other two filled on crosses.

Found out the theme by coming here.

The only thought about the puzzle I remember having while doing it was, "Beer guts, souse, bar tab? Wow, Jeff and Will are trolling Rex." But he didn't bite. Interesting.

Z 9:26 AM  

@Flinque - PER SE

Rug Crazy 9:32 AM  

1. Silly theme
2. Beergut is my favorite fill in this year
3. My puzzle was missing the clue for 55 down.

Katzzz 9:35 AM  

My predilection is to cheer any puzzle with a new twist or gimmick -- such as today's. Not brilliant, but scores for its novelty. I solved on paper. Not sure at first what was going on so didn't right anything in the boxes with the vertical lines and waited for what I thought would be a rebus to be revealed. After I became fairly certain that there was only going to be one letter in the vertical line box I started to fill them in, writing the correct letter to the right of the line, since that offered more space. When I finally got what was going on, I filled in the final two themers using the vertical lines, which was kind of fun. Different, at least. And in a world of many many xwords, different in and of itself rates high.

Petsounds 9:37 AM  

Average solve time, the usual fill, a non-theme theme. Excruciatingly meh.

It's OK, Jeff. Everyone's allowed to have a few underperforming days. And as @Joaquin said, probably fun for you, if not for us.

Lorelei Lee 9:45 AM  

I'm with @Runs With, c’mon! Clear Cut, Beer Gut, Rice Cakes, Leap Frog, Sure Bets? Good stuff. And, have to admit, I have a thing for rulers (except those wimpy plastic 6-inchers that came in the pencil boxes back in the day). Nothing like an 18-inch metal straight edge, the royalty of the ruling class, paired with a fresh X-acto blade to get a big crop job done.

Used to tap on our secretary's desk with a ruler for her attention just so I could watch her get that FU-try-to-get-along-without-me-posture and ignore me while she typed on. Then we'd both crack up.

None of the usual boring Tuesday fill, minimum pop fluff, no one’s been mortally offended. Clean solve across and down. This is a super Tuesday. Wish I were a paper solver. I’d have over achieved on toeing that line (guess you could also tow the line). A dedicated rule bender, but when it comes to optics, it's all about composition and balance.

@Z, if this is the book you’re looking for, they have scads of new and used paper and hardbacks.

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

@ Nancy: Your comment is about all that needs to be said. I would only add that trying to deal with the lined squares in the NYT print version was a very unpleasant - and totally unnecessary - experience.

RooMonster 9:59 AM  

Hey All !
Didn't have the lines pre-printed-in-the-themers as apparently the paper did. Didn't need them. Would've been distracting for me. Got the Revealer and said, "Huh, letters with STRAIGHT EDGES. Wah wah." Yes, I said Wah wah. But, to at least add a little zest to the puz, beside LEE (last Across) there is no other entry with all STRAIGHT EDGES.

So I'm standing with the Meh crowd on this one. Too bad MET (32D) wasn't Meta-ed as MEH. Har.

One-letter DNF, at the (to me) totally unfair cross of LET/RAREFY. Had an I. Actually spent about two minutes looking for my error after getting the infamous Almost There! and looked that over and confirmed it to be correct. Shenanigans!

How come sometimes on the NYT app the puz (cursor) moves from one answer to another when you fill it in, but some days it doesn't? Frustrating. Pick a format and stick with it!

Jeff, your site is great, as are usually your puzs. This one kinda blah-ed. Sorry.

Five F's ( another highlight)
DR PEPPER (Love LIL Sweet!)("It's the Sweet One")

JC66 10:02 AM  

Just wondering why I wouldn't be considered a STRAIGHT EDGE letter.

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

It is two words, “per” and “se”. In the good old days, the clue would have been written with a (2 wds) modifier.

TJS 10:13 AM  

If you don't obsess about theme and just do this as a straight-up Tuesday, it is light years ahead of that drivel we dealt with yesterday. "Beer Guts, Optics, Ratchet,Rarefy, Dogpile Feelfree,etc." What more do you want from a Tuesday. Of course we all know why Rex would rhapsodise about a totally un-remarkable Monday effort and find nothing of value today. Two words, "Jeff Chen".

@kitchef, I think you neatly summarized my entire experience with this blog. Ive become addicted, but I am starting to just pass on commenting because all I hear myself composing in my head is snarky criticism of Rex. But I still enjoy the humor and different perspectives of all (well, most) contributors. So I guess I'll only jump in when he REALLY pisses me off.

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

Yeah, count me among the "people [who] started solving and just wrote in the letters to the side of the damned "vertical lines" only to realize later on, "oh, I was supposed to ... make letters ... that incorporated those lines ... huh."'

mathgent 10:24 AM  

I agree with most of the comments so far. Kind of cool to be shown that only eleven letters are formed with a line segment on the left side. Jeff Chen dumbs down early-week puzzles but he still had some good stuff, like BEERGUTS. There were a sufficient number of longish entries. Jeff squeezed all the juice possible out of this inferior orange.

No one has commented so far about straight edges versus rulers. Jeff correctly says that rulers are examples of straightedges, they are not synonymous. Euclid’s straightedges are not rulers.

I’ve seen Forrest Gump a few times and don’t recall that he liked Dr. Peppers.

Is ECOLABEL a thing? I’m not interested enough to look it up. Just like I wasn’t involved enough to correct RARIFY when it created LIT.

William of Ockham 10:25 AM  

I wish I hadn't read the note on the A-Lite, way slowed me down - over-thinking it

Anonymous 10:26 AM  

I don't mind puzzles where I don't see the them until after I'm finished so this was, well, at least interesting. Jeff Chen says he used a computer program called regex to find theme answers. Is this a common tool for constructors? Does it work with Crossword Compiler?

Z 10:32 AM  

@Lorelei Lee - Interesting. Those weren’t showing up yesterday. It’s out of print, so I have to wonder how long those new copies have been sitting around. I also wonder how many people saw that Twitter thread, went searching for it, and if those searches prompted Amazon to do something. Yesterday the only option popping up was the kindle version.

@TJS - Careful. You are about ¼th of the way to “Rex is right.” I agree that Rex’s reaction to a Chen puzzle is pretty predictable. I don’t think it is personal, though. It’s like a classical music lover reacting to Rage Against the Machine or vice versa. The two don’t agree on what makes a puzzle interesting.

Joe Dipinto 10:35 AM  

Up there, where the air is rarefied

We can run up a bar tab on exotic booze. No beer, sorry.

Whatsername 10:49 AM  

@kitschef (7:18) Your analysis is spot on. Much like a marriage grown stale, searching for diversions in the greener grasses across the fence may ultimately prove that what’s growing in your own back yard isn’t so bad.

@Flinque (8:53) PER SE tripped me up too. I kept seeing it as one word.

@GILL (8:25) Nurse RATCHET was a character in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, brilliantly brought to life in the movie by actress Louise Fletcher who won an Academy Award for the role. Netflix is reviving the character in a series titled RATCHED with Sarah Paulson in the iconic part. The show is currently expected to hit Netflix in September 2020 although it could arrive earlier.

fiddleneck 10:56 AM  

Come Fly With Me. . . .way up there where the air is rarefied.

relicofthe60s 10:59 AM  

So “Crash” won the Oscar for best picture, but it’s obscure because Rex never saw it?

Birchbark 10:59 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 11:01 AM  

You are deranged. Jeff Chen is a nice guy. Claiming his puzzle is a fuck you to a vast number of people he’s never met is a bizarre claim. Even for you. This is pettiness and jealously run amok. Perhaps you should reconsider your emotional attachment to the puzzle.

CT2Napa 11:04 AM  

rarefy has led rarify from the beginning. here is the ngram

rarefy vs rarify

Frantic Sloth 11:06 AM  

Oh, yeah - hand up for RARiFY, pleat, and BORe. Crosses fixed my a$$.

@kitshef 718am Nutshell. 👏👍

@pabloinnh 801am I saw what you did there. *groan* 😄👍

Masked and Anonymous 11:07 AM  

Straight EEEDGES. Different, so ok, for a one-time day. Could they have maybe also used I's in the themers? … they're pretty darn straight. Even better: how'bout squared-off U's?
Really liked the DRPEPPER themer. M&A's fave soda pop (altho I only have a coupla cans of pop a week, max -- don't want no popgut).

Sparkliest fillins: DOGPILE. First-time NYTPuz usage. Debut PILE. 38-D ain't got my clue of choice for DOGPILE, but then we don't have many football groups stacked up in our front yard.

staff weeject pick, of a highly respectable set of 18 3-letter pups: BTU. That reminds m&e: is T another straight-lined letter they coulda used in their themers? I know them I's and T's wouldn't come off as exactly centered, but -- what the hey. And what about H and N and M, in any case? Get a little more variety in there than REBELREBEL and LEE, thataway. Don't rarefy them theme letters so much. Just thinkin out loud.

Only 74 words again, today (which is good). And I believe there were 2 questionmark-clues, so that was nice.

Thanx for the straight-up fun, Chenmeister.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


Lorelei Lee 11:09 AM  

*Book Alert* @Z, Searched Title/paperback yesterday. Amazon is actually tricky. Search a title, get $9.99 version on Kindle. Search again on "Kindle version" and get .99.

BTW, maybe consider Kindle. Cheaper books with instant translations (think War & Peace), dictionary, free classics in the public realm. Impulse buying :)

Like to hear your take on the Grant book. In a WW II phase again. Disaster where good triumphs.

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

No. It’s nurse Ratched in the film. And why wouldn’t be? That’s the name in the book.and also why the Netflix series is so named.

Nice try. But a reasonable Rage against the machine fan would be able to acknowledge the genius of Mozart even if he didn’t enjoy it. So to the classical music lover. I personally heard Ricardo Muti extoll the virtues of various Rolling Stones tracks, though he confessed to not being a fan of rock. What Rex does is crap on things he doesn’t like. He won’t begrudge them anything. If it’s by Bruce Haight or Jeff Chen, he’ll reflexively object to it. Rex is a petty and small minded parochial prick. A big fish in a small pond. And everybody who’s read him for any length of time can see through his reviews. That his ad hominem is veiled, doesn’t make it any less pernicious.

Smith 11:15 AM  

@Jim McC 7:55

Me, too.

Smith 11:18 AM  

@Pablo 8:01

Re printing: been doing it daily since mid March, uh, y'know, and the issue here is that the print command needs to be told it's printing a pdf to get the correct margins. Sort of an extra step, you have to download and save first. But becomes automatic after a few... months... Hope it helps.

GaryMac 11:20 AM  

Fairly easy SB today.

albatross shell 11:22 AM  

Because "I" has bars sticking out top and bottom. And even if that doesn't do it for you the 'I' would not be aligned with the other letters because it would be in the center of the square. You do not want bad kern(a).

Anonymous 11:22 AM  

it's pronounced Soo-Say.

jberg 11:38 AM  

I solve in the paper, so I had the lines. I thought maybe they were two sides each of two zippers, but no. Then I got SABRES, and just put it in, so there was no rebus. I wrote over the lines, and after I got a couple of them I noticed that I was writing the left edge of each letter right over that line, and I had the theme. Only I didn't think I had it, because I thought there must be something more -- maybe use those lines to draw something with? But no, that was it. STRAIGHT EDGES.

Actually, it was straight left edges, which in the right font would actually form a straight vertical line when written one above the other. (@JC66, that's why I doesn't work -- the vertical line is in the middle, not over on the left.)


@Flinque, don't believe all those people telling you that dook is really PER SE. A PERSE is either:

1. Someone who worked with a Mede to write laws, long ago; or

2. A handbag, in Georges Perec's forthcoming new novel.

Birchbark 11:46 AM  

Old tools and Tuesday fill -- they lose their shine but still work if needed.

If not, they hang over workbenches or clutter drawers with nothing to do for years but wait their turn for the masking tape that values them low, then lie on a makeshift table in the driveway, sifted over and set back down most of the morning, even rained on briefly, but not enough to move the sale back into the garage.

Take ERSE. The old Scottish Gaelic language. It's in a wooden box with ONO, EBB, SPA, ARES, PEI, ADZ, etc., $1 each or three for $2. We see them jumbled there today or in reserve, lacking their own integrity, just a string of unwanted words to the critic whose standard is novelty.

Then in the afternoon somebody comes along who needs an ERSE. It's a good price for a word that gave Boswell and Dr. Johnson so much to discuss as they ambled over the treeless Western Isles on their Tour of the Hebrides 245 years ago. They were obsessed (to this reader) with whether the supposedly ancient ERSE poetry of Ossian was authentic or a modern (18th c.) fabrication. Johnson lamented the English suppression of ERSE as a living language. But he sharply and probably correctly considered Ossian a hoax.

So I will take the deal, and bring home an ERSE, a SPA, and an ADZ. Two dollars lighter in pocket. And a sadder and wiser man, who will find a use for what the puzzle offers him.

sara 11:47 AM  

in the print version the vertical lines were a pain in the neck -- each one read as an "I" in the blank space, so i had to constantly mentally correct what i was looking at...

Sir Hillary 12:11 PM  

Seems like this has sent lots of people into the

Paper solver here. Vertical lines didn't bother me, and I found the theme refreshing compared to the usual Tuesday blahs.

E to disagree with me.

Technically a
F due to RARiFY. LiT looked fine, so never even looked at the clue.

Loved loved loved the clue for BEERGUTS.

GILL I. 12:30 PM  

@Whatsername.....Hee Hee. Since becoming the sand-"witch" lady, Paul has gained about 3 pounds. He's the perfect guinea pig - trying all my concoctions. He'll eat anything as long as it doesn't have an egg in it!
Yeah, I was thinking nurse RATCHET. I saw Cuckoo's Nest about 2 or 3 times. It made me sad, though. BUT...I love Louise Fletcher.
@Kitshef....Yes.....your post was primo but I can't help but see that you left out the mighty EEL....

What? 12:47 PM  

I think this puzzle illustrates the fact that Shortz has a soft spot (in his head) for puzzles that are difficult to construct; unfortunately many of these are not so much fun to solve and I think that’s the case here

Flinque 12:47 PM  

Ah, thanks

Bourbon Street 1:01 PM  

@Roo Monster. At the risk of joining 20 people answering your question about the cursor (at this point, no one has answered it but you never know who is typing at the same time you are), my experience has been that the cursor does not jump to the next clue if I have gone back to a particular clue and corrected a typo or if I have inserted a letter in an incomplete clue. I always use the “tab” button, therefore. I am solving on the NYT app on an iPad, so my answer here may not be helpful to those who are solving on a different device.

Overall, I liked the puzzle and found it easy. However, being told that there are vertical lines in certain squares and actually seeing the lines makes for a different solving experience. At first I felt cheated, but after reading @Nancy’s comment, I don’t feel cheated after all.

Teedmn 1:16 PM  

What, Jeff Chen couldn't manage to have the non-theme squares all come from ACGJMOQSUVWXYZ letters? Just kidding.

Yes, I was one of those solvers who, after finishing, started thinking about the purpose of those lines in the grid and said, "Oh, I should have used those to help form my letters rather than squishing everything into the right side." Of course, that assumes you figure out the theme early enough to make use of them which I did, but oh well. I kept thinking, "@Nancy is going to hate this - it's worse than circles!"

The fill in this puzzle was really nice and I liked the revealer answer but the theme, kind of ho-hum. But thanks, Jeff Chen, for the Tuesday entertainment.

Whatsername 1:31 PM  

@Anonymous (11:13) Right you are, and I knew that but was sort of going with the flow on the original comment and the crossword.

Anonymous 1:54 PM  

Frank Sinatra's song "Come Fly With Me" -- "...When I get you up there, Where the air is RAREFIED..."

RooMonster 1:59 PM  

**SB Alert!**

Missed YesterBee by one word again! Argh! It was a long list, too, but I was outthought by it. *Nudge nudge wink wink* Todays is done, not QB, but I'm sick of looking at it! No QB for me since the 15th. To all Bee-ers, send some of your brain waves my way so I can get back to Queen-ing!

**SB Over and Out**

RooMonster Brain Cells Be Dissin Me Lately Guy

Anonymous 2:06 PM  

@Anons at 11:01 and 11:13 - For the most part, the comments on this blog are intelligent, informative and - even when voicing displeasure - expressed without resorting to profanity. Let's all try to keep things civil please.

Anonymous 2:11 PM  

Er um, yeah. That thought occurred to me. I’d hate for you to judge before all the facts are in, but maybe, just maybe, I was itching to address another poster. My apologies.
Z, you however, remain a toady for Rex. My question is why? Why carry that guy’s water?

Barbara S. 2:34 PM  

I’m almost always a Pollyanna-solver, so I find myself in the pro camp. Not that it was glittery, but I thought the theme was fine for an early-week puzzle. I agree with @Katzzz (9:35) who awarded points for originality. I didn’t have the annoyance of the pre-printed verticals, so that may have helped. “HELEN KELLER” springs to mind as a possible answer, but on second thought, she’s one letter too long for the longest STRAIGHTEDGE entries.

BEERGUTS today and DAD BOD yesterday? People really have to start prioritizing exercise. And hey -- more RICECAKEs and fewer BUNs. Don’t be tempted by the KEEBLER ELF. Gotta keep the BAR TAB down and stay off the DR. PEPPER. Yikes, I sound like a new-BORN Nurse RATCHET.

34A I think I had an original error (at least, no one’s mentioned it): soldiER for FIGHTER.

37A WILDER: I have a soft spot for Thornton WILDER because “Our Town” was my favorite play when I was 13. I played Emily in a school production.

30A RORY: I’ve always liked this name, ever since my sister went through her cowgirl phase and doted on RORY Calhoun. I’ve wondered where it comes from and whether it’s a full name or a nickname, so I looked it up. It’s adapted from the Gaelic language family and means “red-haired king.” Good to know (if you’re that way inclined).

They Were Only Playing Leap Frog

@Z 9:21
Got it! And I should have known you were joshing from the beginning. It’s a good thing for all of us that I semi-grokked your intent last night (with @JC66’s help), or I might have launched into a lengthy exposition!

The SB’s pretty doable today (hi @GaryMac), so anyone with QB aspirations might want to have a go. Just sayin', @RooMonster. I missed by one word yesterday, too. And it was a word I should have got (unlike the dreaded "oppugn" from a couple of days ago).

TTrimble 2:37 PM  

Some Anonymous said "it's pronounced Soo-Say". You're not serious? In which case: I don't get it.

TJS 2:49 PM  

Joe :
Ashes to ashes, funk to funky
We know Major Tom's a junkie...

bauskern 2:55 PM  

Wow, and to think that here was poor Jeff Chen, coming up with a puzzle to amuse us, and the bulk of you, from Rex on down, just *dump* on him because you didn't care for the theme. I'm glad the public doesn't get to vent on my daily work . . . . . If this was the daily level of criticism, I'd retire in a heartbeat.

Folks, the constructors are doing the best they can. let's cut them a little slack.

Photomatte 3:36 PM  

Did anyone else get a DNF even though every answer was correct? I've checked and rechecked my puzzle (via my iPad version) and it's all good....except I get the "Keep Trying" message. Not the end of the world but it will mess up my long streak of correctly solved puzzles!

Anonymous 3:45 PM

pabloinnh 4:13 PM  

@Smith-I'll try your method when it looks like something funky is going on. I print the puzzle every day and 99% of the time it's fine. Appreciate the suggestion.

yo yo yo @FraSlo-Thanks for noticing, I was about to give up. If just one person gets an oh no groan from one of those, I feel like the world is a better place.

@bauskern 2:25-Amen.

JC66 4:16 PM  


Just guessing, but do you have RAREFY for 13D?

Bourbon Street 5:33 PM  

@Photomatte: If the problem is not RAREFY, check to make sure you have ONO at 42D instead of Eno (who is a popular answer).

albatross shell 5:41 PM  

I thought the theme and revealer were adequate to the job and scored bonus points for originality. Too bad there is no letter that is a backward C, then you could have slalom puzzle. RAREFY only bothered me because LiT just about worked.

The fill and the clues were above average IMO. Rex trashed the theme and I know he has high standards there. I would have preferred Gleeson as my Brendan and In Bruges as the movie. I guess Gleeson is going to be playing Trump in a TV moni-series version of Comey's book. Gleeson is a letter too long. Not much in Rex's blog to nitpick today. HAH. Take that anyway you choose.

TTrimble 5:51 PM  

Thanks, Anonymous.

Nancy 6:24 PM  

@Teedmn (1:16) -- Funny! And perceptive.

albatross shell 6:36 PM  

Thanks @Sir Hillary 1211pm for THEDEEPEND.

Thanks to @some anon. for Soosay. No idea how bad I feel for not posting that myself and for not getting it after the first post. Shame shame shame. Wish I could buy you and Shemp a drink at the Black Pussy (Cat) Cafe.

Unknown 6:41 PM  

Just like W. C. Fields, Edgar Souse.

Frantic Sloth 6:57 PM  

@albatross shell 441pm Oooh!! Why not a column of S-es? That would be slalom-y!

@pablo - gotcher back, dude. 😉

albatross shell 8:32 PM  

Thought of adding C and S to backward C and backward S.

All start from the upper right. They do not connect to each other. Not slalomly. Need a backward S.

pabloinnh 8:33 PM  

@FranSlot-shoulda known. Oh me of little faith.

Runs with Scissors 9:11 PM  

I totally forgot about the SB...

***SB ALERT*****

I hit QB on the SB at 0740 this am. Which kinda sucked, actually, because I had nothing to do while the wife was at her post-op for her knee replacement, which I could not attend because COVID precautions.

I had already finished the Vertex at breakfast, also. I suck at the Letter Boxed thingamajigger.

Joe Dipinto 10:41 PM  

Just stopped in to observe that today's Cryptogram was very easy, thanks to a huge visual giveaway.

Mr. Ratchett will now turn in for the evening.

thefogman 10:05 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
thefogman 10:29 AM  

Some puzzles are more enjoyable when solved in the actual newsprint edition. Rex usually does his online., thus the sub-par rating. I did mine on old-fashioned pen and paper and thought it was pretty good.

Don 11:13 AM  

I grew up in the shadow of Mt. Baldy in Upland, CA. Thanks for the memory!

spacecraft 11:24 AM  

Number of words in the grid: 74. Number of letters that DON'T have a straight edge (out of 189): 74. Weird. Of course, it would be impossibly elegant to have all the non-theme letters be straight-edge-FREE, but there really is a glut of them.

I too had RARiFY, but then the across clue made no sense. Didn't even think of greenLIT, but I would've rejected it anyway. Change to LET, and all is well.

A restaurant with a VALET? Yeah, I know they exist, but...*sigh*, it must be nice. Not my world. I love football, but I've never heard the phrase DOGPILE. To me DOGPILE means one thing--and I need to bring a baggie along for it.

I must say this is a CLEARCUT below what I've come to expect from the Chenmeister. Maybe he should steer clear of early-week puzzles and go back to those Fri/Sat beauties. Theme is anybody-can-do-that stuff, and the fill is less than stellar. Even with my #1 all-time DOD SELA Ward, this puzzle is no more than a par--but with the JC byline, it has to be a bogey.

Burma Shave 11:53 AM  


ASK that SOUSE to admit - IT's a SUREBET and CLEARCUT -
he'll look STRAIGHT ATIT, "I'LL spare ATTIRE for a BEERGUT."


rondo 12:05 PM  

Another hand up for RARiFY at first. Don't even know why I came back to it since LIT looked fine, until reading the clue.

How do Oliver and Lisa Douglas find stuff out? 1a 4a, ASK EBB (or Hank Agent the County Kimball).

The four corners have it down to ATEE.

FEELFREE to disagree, but you're wrong, the CLEARCUT yeah baby is SELA Ward.

Not much to write home about here. The END.

leftcoaster 2:46 PM  

Me too for RARiFY at first before the crossing LET insisted on an E.

Found the vertical lines to be more a distraction than an aid, and the gimmick left me a bit cold. But things heated up a bit in the middle South where I wanted CUt and BORe instead of CUE and BORN, which left teD (making no sense) instead of END.

That's where I ERRed.

Diana, LIW 3:05 PM  

Well I did mine in the paper, with pencil, as always. And I absolutely HATED (X36) those F***ing lines that looked like I's running down the page. Made the puzzle darn near impossible to see - especially for one with eye issues (me).

The puz itself was fine, but the revealer? Dumb. IMO Enough

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Anonymous 3:12 PM  

It's the name of a character played by W. C. Fields in The Bank Dick.

Cesc 3:52 PM  

Hey! This was a super fun puzzle.

You see, it was a WILDER party at the corner pub and a SURE BET to see the BAR TABs mount when those BEER GUTs DRAPEd OER the counter. Yikes! Dunlap’s Disease!

No more DR PEPPER or RICE CAKEs for them. Soon they’ll be seeing little KEEBLER ELFs riding METEORs speeding thru the RAREFied atmosphere at ERNST’s mach 10. Then the CROWD will all LEAPFROGs into a DOGPILE amid laugher galore. FEELFREE to join them, Rex.

I love those tiny mysterious puzzles planted into the grid. It cranks up my cranial juices - pondering the solution every time I throw a letter into a crazy square. Moreover it should not be a difficult trick on a Tuesday. Have mercy on us neophytes, please!

So it’s been done before. Ho hum! We haven’t all been doing these things for 30 years. We’re not jaded by the triteness of it all.

If there was a no-repeat rule, then newbies would never get to see what the old time pros enjoyed over the years, Moreover, if I have fun and the puzzle tickles my fancy, it doesn’t matter that I’ve seen the trick before. I’m for allowing repeats after a hiatus of a few years.

Thanks, Jeff. This made my day.

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