Norse goddess of fate / TUE 7-14-20 / Dark yellowish green / Muckraking journalist Jacob

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Constructor: Stella Zawistowski

Relative difficulty: Challenging (no idea how long it took me ... stopped several times out of boredom / annoyance ... felt harder than normal for a Tuesday)

THEME: PLONK — jk ... looks like ordinary phrases where the first word is also the name of a Broadway show, clued as if they somehow referred to said show:

Theme answers:
  • RENT FREEZE (17A: Super-cold spell on the set of a 1996 Broadway musical?)
  • HAIR SHIRT (11D: Souvenir from a 1968 Broadway musical?)
  • ANNIE HALL (34D: Performance venue for a 1977 Broadway musical?)
  • WICKED GOOD (58A: Positive, albeit terse, review of a 2003 Broadway musical?)
Word of the Day: NORN (56A: Norse goddess of fate) —
The Norns (Old Norsenorn, plural: nornir) in Norse mythology are female beings who rule the destiny of gods and men. They roughly correspond to other controllers of humans' destiny, such as the Fates, elsewhere in European mythology. (wikipedia)
• • •

Theme seems extremely weak. Part of the reason I found the puzzle hard was I assumed the theme was actually doing something ... Got RENT FREEZE and thought it was RENT FREE with -ZE added for some wacky reason. Then I kept waiting for some big idea to gel, for Anything to happen beyond "first words are Broadway shows," but that moment never came. Concept seemed hackneyed and the clues seemed anemic. Where's COMPANY CAR? NINE WEST? GYPSY MOTH? CHICAGO BEARS? Huge shrug for all of today's themers and their clues. And then the fill was just ragged through the middle there. The phrase "all wet" is so olden that I don't even really know what it means, so WRONG was actually a mild surprise. PLONK could've been any sound effect, as far as I was concerned. I had CLONK and CLANK and god knows what else in there. Huge let-down to have actual answer be something as ugly and random as PLONK. I think of PLONK as ... either something akin to PLUNK (i.e. put something down heavily) or else cheap wine. Would not have associated it with "old pianos." CRACK could've been lots of stuff including BREAK (35A: Succumb to pressure). It was the awful vagueness coupled with the non-aha moment when I finally "got" it that made solving this one (esp. the middle section) particularly miserable.

Whole SE corner was a mystery. Had OCHER / OCHRE at 62A: Dark, yellowish green (OLIVE). Barely heard of NORN (yuck), and I surely won't be the only one. Surprised to see NORN on a Tuesday. Could not come up with TRIANGLE from that clue (39D: Word with love or right). GOOD part of WICKED GOOD was not clear. Wouldn't know a TELEX if it bit me (though I've heard of them). Everything felt confusing and ye olde. And the modern stuff was just awkwardly clued. I "find" Alexa ... in (?) ECHO (51A: Where to find Amazon's Alexa). I've used Alexa. I have never owned an ECHO. Everything from stem to stern in this thing just clonked (or plonked) for me. Theme weak and thin (and not nearly funny / wacky enough), fill stale, cluing often vague, clunky, or not right for the day of the week. WHOLE HOG and SHERLOCK are fine answers, but mostly this one was a total miss for me.

"Friends" and "Frasier" are specifically sitcoms, so needing all the crosses just to get ... SHOW (?)??? This is the kind of weird combo of hard and disappointing that this puzzle managed to be at many different points. The saying of "no thanks" to something and the SKIPPING of it are completely different acts (43A: Saying "No thanks" to, say). There's just a weird lot of common / borderline crosswordese stuff. Seems like with a theme this (relatively) light, the fill wouldn't be so IRR AROD RIIS ESTA TELEX ORES ORSO ACTI ANTE AXLE etc. The worst of the short fill, though, was the GPO / EEOC crossing. Truly awful, if only because their crossing *initialisms*, which means if you don't know what the letters ... stand for ... you have no hope. I knew EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), so never really noticed GPO, which ... I don't think I've ever seen in a crossword. General Post Office? Oof, if I google [GPO] I get the US Government Publishing Office. Do they ... "collect letters"? No ... looks like this clue is definitely referring to General Post Office, which is ... British? Or maybe they have them everywhere? This is only the second appearance of this particular initialism in the past ten years. And that other time? Was on a Saturday. At annnny rate: GPO / EEOC is just an objectively bad crossing, on any day. Sigh. If this puzzle had a. had snazzier themers with funnier clues, b. run on a Wednesday, and c. had much cleaner fill, maybe. But as it is, no.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:10 AM  

Medium. NORN was the only WOE but PLONK seemed odd. My first thought was PLinK. I mean, if you listen to the background piano in some early movies doesn’t it sound PLiNKy? Liked it slightly more than @Rex did.

Epeeist 12:22 AM  

For the old piano clue, I first tried plink then plunk. Never thought about trying plonk which makes no sense to me.

William of Ockham 12:25 AM  

Yeah, annoying is the word, harder but for stupid nonsensical words and acronyms, not cleverness or bright fill.

Funny I got bored, too. Why have I agreed with Rex so much lately? (Methinks he's been right)

McKay Hinckley 12:35 AM  

OMG, plonk/wrong drove me insane. There are a million “plonky” nonwords they could have gone with, and to cross the pivotal vowel with the nonsensical “wrong” (all wet? WTF?) was frustrating.

Garrett 12:36 AM  

This was the worst NYT Crossword I've ever done. I've never commented before but I needed to today. Was surprised at how relatively positive this review was, as it was so archaic and poorly clued that I thought about giving up my 135 day streak on a Tuesday puzzle out of protest.

egsforbreakfast 12:36 AM  

This is getting ......a......little...........scaaaaarrry! For about the third day in a row I more or less agree with Rex. The theme is fairly executed, but is nothing to write home about, especially since I never leave my home anymore. The fill is meh, although Rex is unfair at times. For example, putting in “ochre” for dark, yellowish green simply means that your knowledge of colors is deficient. Succumb to pressure is a fine clue for CRACK, as crack under pressure is an oft-heard phrase.

WEED, CRACK and PLONK made me wonder where John X is these days.

Anonymous 12:45 AM  

This was a really great puzzle...other than the bad theme, poor fill, and clunky clues.

I want to get into constructing. I think I’m going to save this puzzle as motivation when I think my ideas are too lazy or poorly executed. Maybe send this puzzle as a response to my rejections...I mean, you thought this puzzle was good enough to run.

Brenton 1:03 AM  

I'm not sure why GYPSYMOTH would have been better than HAIRSHIRT. That seems like a really petty criticism. I thought the theme was fine for a Tuesday. And I don't follow the RENTFREE problem. RENTFREEZE seemed clear.

That lower right corner was tough, though TELEX was easy after DOT and TRIANGLE (also easy).

And SHOW felt obvious.

But man, that EEOC / GPO cross was brutal.

Anonymous 1:19 AM  

Took me quite a while to figure out that WRUNG was WRONG.

chefwen 2:22 AM  

Wish I could say this was WICKED GOOD, but it wasn’t.

No idea on NORN. had cLuNK before PLuNK thought WRuNG night be okay as something that gets wrung out to dry, until I remember Dear Old Dad used to say “he’s all wet” meaning the guy has no idea what’s going on.

My biggest mistake was of my own doing. At 45D I kept reading Auditioner’s desire as Auctioneers, don’t ask, so I slap down saLE, that messed me up for quite a while until I went back about the third time and the correct word finally kicked in. The scariest part is that I’ve done that before with the same damn clue.

Oh, and I did the same thing Rex did with Ocher/OLIVE, guess I don’t know my colors either.

Karl 2:55 AM  

GPO is not a thing in 21st century California. I cannot speak for other parts of the galaxy.

goldbug 3:16 AM  

Everyone knows the sound old pianos make is PLINKETTY PLONK, so half that answer doesn't help. Especially with "All wet" (which I have never heard as a synonym for WRONG. WRING for "Dry", yes.)

I've heard of a love TRIANGLE but I've never heard of a right TRIANGLE. A right-angled TRIANGLE, sure.

Can confirm that GPO has not been used as a term for the Post Office here in the UK for over sixty years.

Jenny Hubbard 3:57 AM  
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Frantic Sloth 4:04 AM  

Wow. Completely opposite experiences between the Mondee and Tuesdee puzzles for me! Yesterday, I had zero corrections. Today, I had to correct nearly every single entry. Talk about wheelhouse vs. outhouse.

Did you ever dislike something so much that the reasons are hidden in a miasma of "did that just say that??" swirling around your head, leaving you with nothing but the inability to express said reasons?
I thought not.'s probably just me.

This whole nightmare of a puzzle reminded me of someone trying to be clever, but who's just learning English through idioms and slang and without understanding their meanings, much less origins. Or like me trying to explain just what the hell I mean by that.

And just what the hell was that theme??? Broadway shows as part of...what? Movie titles? Boston parlance? Penitent fashion??

Also, much of the fill clues and answers seemed to have a tenuous relationship at best.

Yeah. SHERLOCK Holmes was a genius. He was also fictional. And I don't know about anyone else, but whenever I call someone SHERLOCK, it ain't a compliment.
I guess you could say PROS are reasons to do something, as in a list of PROS & cons, but it's not gonna stop me from hating that clue.

NOOIL (and how it's clued) is so bad it doesn't even have the virtue of looking like a DOOK.

Almond ROCA? I like English Toffee. Never heard of that brand. That's on me, I guess, so no legit nit there at least.

I really hate to hate a puzzle this much, because I could never actually construct one. You people who have this ability are Martians to me because it requires a certain kind of genius I'll never attain.

But, I do know what I like and right now I like the fact that this irk fest is over.

🧠🧠🧠 (It's a wavelength thing. I hope.)

chefwen 4:46 AM  

@Frantic Sloth from yesterday, I was not aware that Mango sap allergy could be that severe, I try not to touch them now I’ll avoid them like the plague, thank you.

chefwen 4:52 AM  

BTW Frantic, if you like English Toffee you will love Almond Roca.

HT 5:17 AM  

This crossword was a living nightmare for me. I love musicals, so I usually love themes about musicals. Not this one. I found the theme clunky and while I thought RENT FREEZE was fun and WICKED GOOD was cute, I definitely was left scratching my head with HAIR SHIRT. That didn’t feel like a good theme answer to me but I can’t really explain why it rubbed me the wrong way so badly.

As Rex said, I agree that the bottom-right corner was too tricky for a Tuesday. I ended up getting it on crosses but only barely. I love mythology but somehow blanked at NORN.

It is also very reassuring to me that others here had no idea what GPO was supposed to be referencing, either. And like many others I have always considered old pianos to sound PLINK-y, not PLONK-y...and especially not when WRONG was the cross.

I kept telling myself I was dumb for being so frustrated on a Tuesday puzzle. Like, had I really gotten this dull during quarantine???? What happened to my sharp, young mind???? So coming here was a pretty huge relief. I’m glad to see that everyone agrees that this was a weirdly-constructed Tuesday grid with some “??” clues and crosses and a weak theme. I definitely didn’t go into today expecting a frustrating Tuesday. Is it weird to feel gaslit by a puzzle? Because that’s how I feel.

Unknown 5:32 AM  

Not too many Wagner fans out there - The Norns are major characters in "The Twilight of the Gods." So that was the first clue I got. Have to discover Almond Roca. In my part of the world the GPO is the Government Pharmaceutical Office so that didn't work. Happily I remembered my stamp collecting days.

mathgent 6:08 AM  

Trying to put myself in Lewis’s shoes and think of something good to say about it. ANNIEHALL.

I’m petty tolerant of junk. I don’t consider most crosswordese to be junk, for example. But today had three stinkers: PLONK, NORN, NOOIL.

One characteristic of weak crosswords is the lack of longish entries (at least six letters). Today’s had fewer than 20%, 14 out of 78. Some recent strong late-weekers have had about half.

San Francisco doesn’t allow indoor dining, but San Mateo county, just a mile or two away, does. I had an excellent corned beef hash breakfast yesterday indoors. Tables safely spaced, lots of disinfectant around. Sadly, I won’t have that pleasure again for a while. San Mateo is shutting down indoor dining as of today.

ChuckD 6:19 AM  

I liked this puzzle for the most part - nice to have a little early week test. Theme was cute - but I agree that it was a little loose and not exactly elegant. The themers went in fairly quickly for me. SE was tricky - backed into NORN. Thought love/right was a wonderful clue for TRIANGLE and liked DROVE. THE EEOC/GPO crossing is ugly - but easily gettable from the surroundings. In school years ago - we visited and studied the Farley Building on 8th - another beautiful Beaux arts style building in the city. Back then - it was called the General Post Office Building - I think taking the Farley moniker in the mid 80s. Liked PLONK over GRAND and the CREE/LORCA crossing.

Lewis 6:37 AM  
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Lewis 6:39 AM  

I like it when a theme springboards me into the world of new theme answers. And thus:

[Plot change in a 1960 musical?]
[Optimists about the success of a 1970 musical?]
[Nightwear souvenir from a 1982 musical?]
[Book of a 2013 musical?]
[Snack during a 2018 musical intermission?]
[Set need for a 1971 musical?]
[Fete honoring a 1981 musical?]
[What happened after the close of a 2012 musical?]
[Margarita maker for a post-2015 musical nightcap?]
[Clapping gauge at a 1970 musical?]


pabloinnh 6:51 AM  

I thought this was an OK theme for a Tuesday, and I caught on at RENTFREEZE, so finding the other ones was kind of fun. However...

As many have pointed out, the correct piano sound is PLINK. I know very well that "all wet" means WRONG, but the clue should have led to WRING, and it didn't so there's one mistake. Also, a collector of letters is a GPA (think A,B,C,D). This is clearly a better answer than GPO. It's not my job to fix the cross in this one. I hate it when my "wrong" answers are better than the actual answers.

I did like SHERLOCK and TRIANGLE, and WICKEDGOOD is pretty common in these parts, so there's that.

Not a bad Tuesday, SZ. Could have used a couple of tweaks (see above).

Jofried 6:53 AM  

Ugh. Yuck. No thanks.

@mathgent—at least you got to eat a meal in a restaurant. Here in NJ we haven’t been able to do that for the last four months. They were never allowed to reopen.

smalltowndoc 7:01 AM  

Hated it more than Rex did. If this isn’t the worst crossword I’ve ever done, it’s in the top five!

kitshef 7:09 AM  

See, THIS is what you have to do when you make a theme. HAIR, RENT, WICKED, ANNIE. Most people will have at least heard of these. Not an Africana or Idol in the bunch. What I’m saying is, your puzzle themers need to be capital – F - Famous.

A little bit of shorthand overdose with EEOC, IRR, EPA, A-ROD, RBI, NSF, GPO. And I’ve sure never heard of Almond ROCA.

But any shortcomings are more than made up for by the inclusion of NORN.

Robert A. Simon 7:12 AM  

These are do much better.

Conrad 7:26 AM  

Any puzzle that inspires a contribution like the one we got from @Lewis can't be all bad.

Imfromjersey 7:31 AM  

I love Stella’s themeless Tough as Nails puzzles on her blog so happy to see her name today. I nearly DNF, I had PLINK/WRING PLUNK/WRUNG and finally got to PLONK/WRONG to finish the puzzle. This maybe should have been a Wed based on my time.
Otherwise I really liked it a lot, I’m a fan of Broadway - sad that they will be dark until next year.

Joe Dipinto 7:36 AM  

That documentary of the "Company" cast album record session (the clip Rex posted) is really good. Check it out if you haven't seen it, you can stream it now.

Petsounds 7:37 AM  

OK, first off, PLONK is cheap red wine. Rumpole and his legal pals drank copious quantities of it after a day at the Bailey. In all the years I played the piano, I don't believe it ever went "plonk." How "old" is a piano supposed to be before it plonks?

Second off, the weirdest thing about this puzzle for me was the combination of difficult clues (NORN, ABU, GPO) and clues that were so simple that it took me a while to realize they were right (SOAP, TREE, SHOW). And way too many initial clues for my taste. This one just...plonked.

@Frantic Sloth and @Chefwen: At Christmastime, you can get peppermint Almond Roca, in which small bits of candy cane are embedded in the English toffee. It is fantastic!

OffTheGrid 7:39 AM  

I liked your gaslight comment, @HT. I nearly always complete a puzzle (with or without aid) even when I don't fully love it. But today I pulled a "Nancy" and cut it loose about halfway through.

webwinger 8:11 AM  
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Hungry Mother 8:12 AM  

Took a long time this morning, but no real problems. I ran a virtual 5 mile race early this morning to avoid maskless pedestrians in the neighborhood. Nice theme, mildly helpful. My review of Wicked was Worst Ever. One in our party left at intermission. A great disservice to the world of Oz. I read all of the books in that universe when I was a kid.

Hungry Mother 8:24 AM  

@Mathgent: I lived in San Mateo from 1940-1950. Born in NJ, I was carried to California as a newborn, and returned to Philadelphia’s Main Line as a preteen.

pabloinnh 8:24 AM  

@Nancy from last night-Totally agree with you about the song of the hermit thrush, which is wonderful. We have them in the woods around us. I suspect they flew across the border from VT, which had the good sense to make the hermit thrush their state bird.

Anonymous 8:26 AM  

I’m clearly alone here, but I thought it was cute.

webwinger 8:27 AM  

O. O as in PLONK. O as in WRONG. O as in nO happy music. O as in nO way, Tuesday! O as in Check pOzzle. O as in DId nOt finish. O as in ☹️.

Apart from the fact that no piano, old or new, ever said PLONK, not PLiNK, and All wet without a ? is a ridiculous clue for WRONG (producing inescapable cries for WRiNG or WRuNG despite the lack of real congruence), I found this puzzle curiously appealing. The theme was kinda throwaway, and NORN would have been groan inducing in a late-week grid (somehow recalled RIIS from HS American history), but TRIANGLE as clued, YOU AND I, SHERLOCK, and WHOLE HOG seemed fresh. I give it one 👍🏼.

Somehow satisfying to see @Rex trash a female constructor he doesn’t seem to be feuding with.

Kanye 2020 8:39 AM  

Never heard of plonk or all wet to mean wrong- proudly DNF.

Anonymoose 8:40 AM  

Please describe a virtual foot race. I think others may be wondering, too. Thanks.

Another Anon 8:42 AM  

Nobody can say we are not a diverse group. Glad you liked it.

Gleek4Life 8:44 AM  

What is a Hair Shirt?

Anonymous 8:51 AM  

PLONK is bad. I wondered if it was a regional thing, but nope. Yuck. Bad. Might be my new word for something I hate.

Ann Hedonia 8:56 AM  

Agree on so many levels. Had the same errors. Love the video clip from Company. Are you my long lost son?

C Dickens 8:56 AM  

@Lewis - You do know that the play "Oliver" is and adaptation of Oliver Twist, right? With your knowing that, how is Oliver Twist suitably "wacky" to be another possible themer?

GILL I. 8:57 AM  

A mighty loud oof exploded from this mouth...and not a very good one.
At first I thought Stella was going to put two Broadways together - you know like: Gypsy Carousel or Ruined Picnic - maybe even Help Evita. Nah. Just first names with blah blahs.
Had that WHOLE HOG mess in the center WRONG PLONK as everyone else. Why do I get the feeling that this started out as a good idea and then flopped somewhere along the way. Maybe the cluing needed a step up or two?
I loved exactly two entries: Federico Garcia LORCA and WICKED GOOD. I read Lorca's Yerma. I might've seen the play as well. Anyway it's dark and the only reason Yerma marries is so that she can have children and she can't. WICKED GOOD because they make good cupcakes. Speaking of food....why in the world would you/could you eat NOOIL foods. I mean if you want to diet I suppose you could eat rice cakes for ever. But need some good olive oil to sauce up a little bit of fish with some spring veggies. Oh and then we get to Almond ROCA. I chipped a back molar on that stuff. It always comes out around Christmas time. Makes a great present for Pappy Yokum.
I'm off to send a TELEX to everyone telling them California is back on lockdown again. What a surprise. At least I got my toenails done. My hair, on the other hand....maybe my daughter can cut it for me.

@JC66 from last night...Thanks!

Joe Welling 8:58 AM  

Brenton said: "I'm not sure why GYPSYMOTH would have been better than HAIRSHIRT. That seems like a really petty criticism."
I'm not usually one to defend Rex, but you missed his point. Without a rule or unifying theme (something a "theme" is supposed to have), you could have had any number of other themers. He's not saying his examples were better; just that they're as valid, and there was no reason to choose the ones in the puzzle. There should be a reason. Themers shouldn't seem arbitrary.

Anonymous 8:58 AM  

"Plonk" is British slang for cheap wine--would never have thought of it as the sound a piano makes, which would be "plink" or maybe "plunk."

LeaveItToYourGoat 9:00 AM  

The PLONK/WRONG crossing is the most perplexing thing about this dud of a puzzle, and it's just staring right at you as the center square. Like, what was going through WS's mind when he saw that there were two easy ways to go about this crossing, and decided to take a third and far-more-difficult approach?

PLANK/PLINK/PLONK/PLUNK and WRANG/WRING/WRONG/WRUNG would all be acceptable answers. And PLONK/WRONG is, to me at least, the weakest of those 4 options. So the very least you could do is clue one of the entries well enough so that someone born after the Great Depression would be able to get it with some degree of certainty.

Hell, you can even keep your onomatopoeia and still give a semi-decipherable clue for WRONG. But no, WS decided that this Tuesday (!) puzzle wasn't already difficult enough, and threw in "All wet," which just happens to a visual condition conjured up by each of the other three alternatives.

I don't even remember what the rest of this puzzle was about, because that one letter left such a bad taste in my mouth.

Paul Leyden 9:06 AM  

I worked in _the_ GPO in the 70's

--from wikipedia--
The James A. Farley Building is the main United States Postal Service building in New York City. It is located in Midtown Manhattan and was built along with the original Pennsylvania Station in 1912. The building is famous for bearing the United States Postal Service creed: "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds."

The James A. Farley Building was formerly the General Post Office Building.The building was designated a New York City Landmark in 1966. It was officially renamed in 1982 as a monument and testament to the political career of the nation's 53rd Postmaster General James Farley.

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

@Dickens Oliver ! wasn’t based on Oliver Twist ? That’s news. Funny all the characters have the same names.

John 9:10 AM  

This puzzle PLONKed.

Carola 9:19 AM  

Add me to:
- finding it challenging;
- going wrong on PLiNK (I checked the cross and accepted WRiNG without looking back at the clue, which I'd remembered as having something to do with being wet;
- knowing NORN, like @Unknown 5:32, from Wagner: they already get a mention in a beautiful PHrASE by Erda in Das Rheingold;
- being misled, like @Rex, by RENT FREEZE, which I thought was short for. "rent-free zone," so that there was an "on" rebus kind of thing going on. It took a while for me to let that go.

But I think I'm an outlier in really liking the theme, especially WICKED GOOD. And WHOLE HOG was a treat, too.

Ciclista21 9:23 AM  

@Unknown – Agreed, NORN is familiar to anyone with a passing acquaintance of Wagner. The clue was worrisome at first, as if I had to come up with the name of a specific goddess. Then the cross revealed it was the more generic name for the three of them.

@Petsounds, I had the same reaction to PLONK. Old pianos go PLINK, but PLONK is the swill Rumpole quaffed. It would have been far nicer to see this clued to everyone's favorite grumpy old barrister rather than to a dubious sound effect.

Pamela 9:24 AM  

Old pianos are tinny. What is PLONK? Cheap wine. I’m with Rex. Much too hard for a Tuesday, and no fun.

@Lewis- Love your theme suggestions. And what a graceful way to get out of saying more about today’s mess. I always enjoy your posts, so kind-spirited and positive, and I look forward to your weekly favorite clue list. I bet if this was your puzzle, with the same theme, it would get rave reviews.

I’m so sorry for all you Left Coasters for the setback you’re facing. That goes for all of you in the many other states having a terrible time right now as well. So far, NY is holding steady, but what’s happening in so many other places is a daily reminder that this thing is far from under control.

Please take care, everyone. Stay safe.

Unknown 9:24 AM  

Loved this puzzle! Usually my husband finishes in half the time I do. Shoe was on the other foot’s a girl thing. Now you fellas know what it’s like deciphering puzzles created by those who think differently. Only one sports reference...yay!!

Z 9:24 AM  

Well... I was reminded of an early Bare Naked Ladies song so not a total loss. Zawistowski does challenging puzzles, so I was a little surprised to see her by-line today. What is she trying to do? Broadway show phrases isn’t enough by itself to carry the theme. There needs to be something else to tie it all together. I like the theme set as individual answers, but there’s no “there” there so the theme doesn’t work for me.

The west was easy, the east less so. Like others, the SE was especially tough. DNF at WRiNG/PLiNK. I couldn’t quite parse how “all wet” got to WRiNG, but it seemed plausible in a puzzle with GPO crossing EEOC.

@HT - I can’t really explain why it rubbed me the wrong way so badly. Har!

Birchbark 9:30 AM  

GRAND PLONK CRACK -- I wonder what the old TELEX has to say today. Its cold-war urgency long past, now moss-covered, avuncular, reassuring: "What about that thunderstorm last night? That was a storm."

Brit Solves NYT 9:33 AM  

Very hard for a Tuesday, and not in a good way due to the ambiguity of a couple of crosses. Almost as though this slipped through the 'needs further editing' pile by mistake: many clues/answers not Tuesday level.

James Rapson MS 9:39 AM  

Like many solvers, it's not uncommon for me to not care for a clue/answer. What's rare - and detestable - is for it to be demonstrably wrong. "Plonk" is simply wrong - they were thinking "plink" and used the incorrect word, plain and simple; the editor didn't catch it, double blame. "Echo" is wrong as well, the casualty of a creator trying oh so hard to make a clue more inscrutable.

Most folks seemed to hate "GPO"; I smiled when I got that, a term I hadn't heard for years.

@Gleek4Life - A hair shirt was a garment worn by repentant sinners (Middle Ages, I believe) made literally from very irritating haircloth. The practice died out, thankfully, but the word became a metaphor for excessive or unnecessary self-sacrifice.

Anonymous 9:42 AM  

"Yer all wet!!!" can be heard in many movies/shorts (Little Rascals, for example) from the 30s and 40s. it means your WRONG.

in days gone by:

just the org. that prints just about every document, for the public at least, from the federal government.

TELEX was/is (may be?) just another word for telegram let's see... pretty much, just that rather than some geezer tapping a key, it's typewriter-ish machines at either end. the wiki

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

This wouldn’t be so frustrating if it wasn’t a Tuesday. But it IS a Tuesday! PLONK/WRONG is the most egregious one. Had no idea what a HAIR SHIRT was before Googling it (still very obscure compared to the other themers). This was the most frustrated I’ve been solving a puzzle in a long time, perhaps ever.

pmdm 9:51 AM  

I would write about my reaction to today's puzzle, but why bother to repeat what's been siad so many times.

I only this second understand the GPO clue. Actually I kind of like it as a late week clue, but on the Tuesday? Perhaps if late week puzzles could have more entires (as in the Maleska Saturday era) the puzzle could have worked better. But my reaction would probably still be the same.

Evan 9:56 AM  

I guess I was the only one that liked RENTFREEZE. Added bonus for being topical, since the topic of rent freezes have been very much in the news in past months.

I'll also stand up for ECHO. If you've used Alexa, you did it on an Echo. Alexa is the name of the voice assistant, the Echo is the device that it comes on. You wouldn't call your iPhone "your Siri," would you?

Banya 9:56 AM  

This was way challenging for a Tuesday. I liked the theme but the fill was just awful. RIIS NORN GPO?? WTH. YIKES indeed

Evan 9:58 AM  

Forgot to say--if you liked the clip from the Pennebaker documentary Original Cast Album: "Company" in the post, it's now on the Criterion Channel!

Nancy 10:01 AM  

I'm both a Broadway musical buff and a fan of wordplay, so I found this WICKED GOOD Tuesday offering to be a real treat. HAIRSHIRT was my favorite theme entry. If the puzzle has a weakness, it's that ANNIE HALL is a title and not a phrase like the others. Quite possibly the constructor would agree. But it doesn't spoil the enjoyment of the solve.

I also like it when clues provoke curiosity at first glance, and several of these did. "Conflict helpful to customers"; "Things that may be open or folded"; "Trying to look cultured"; "Reasons to do something"; and my favorite, "Word with love or right" vaulted this way above the usual Tuesday fare.

My "genius" has always been an EINSTEIN, not a SHERLOCK. But I'm a mystery buff, so maybe I should reconsider that.

Lovely, playful puzzle.

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

Well Rex, you said you wanted more women constructors ----!
Seriously though, I thought the puzzle was fine.

TTrimble 10:06 AM  

This puzzle made my mind feel really sluggish. Not a good way to start the day. I kept thinking there might be a weird rebus thing about to happen because my hypothetical answers were longer than the actual ones; for example, I wanted to see "cave in" instead of CRACK, and "declining" which really is a more accurate response than SKIPPING. Agree that NO OIL is kind of ridiculous -- NO CAL might be better (think diet soda), and even that'd be kinda bad. GPO, yeah, signified nothing to me. Any kind of echoic word like PLONK is pretty random; I'm pretty sure I was thinking CLANK at one point which would be equally good or bad.

SCRAPE: the cluing is so imprecise and unexciting. I mean, there are a lot of synonyms of "sore" or "wound" and this is one of them. I think I had somewhere between SC---- and SCRA-- and I was thinking something along the lines of "scab" or "scar" and knew there was some other longer word like that with s- and c- sounds in it (it turned that my mind was fumbling for "cicatrice"); thus, I backed into SCRAPE. Seeing that the puzzle felt like it belonged later in the week, a trickier and (to me more interesting, and more precise) way to clue that might be something along the lines of "fix".

ABU: not known to me. Nor was Almond ROCA, but I'll keep in mind chefwen's advice that it's a sweet thing worth trying (like yesterday's TATE'S).

I don't think I can improve on what Frantic Sloth said about SHERLOCK. I had SHE----- and going what is it? It's a weak clue. Someone with Will Shortz's experience ought to be able to improve on that.

@Lewis: that's some tasty lemonade you served up!

It's two for two on agreeing with Rex's reviews this week. My time for today's was well worse than Tuesday average, and I feel his pain.

---[SB Alert]---

A moderator deleted a comment I made about yesterday's by mistake, and said "please repost". Well, not sure I can reconstruct it, but the gist is that I made it to QB and to say (repeat?) that it felt a little dirty. All those exclamations! It was a little hard to predict which ones would pass muster, like WHAMMO, and so it didn't feel like a clean solve. MAHATMA felt like it was pushing the proper noun envelope. Kind of a weird SB experience (not that I have that many).

What may have triggered the moderator was my mention of AMAH and HAHA as serious contenders for inclusion (he/she thought I was giving away an answer), and that I was sorry to have missed KHAT. And I love HAWKMOTH! I'll have to look that up later.

William of Ockham 10:09 AM  

@mathgent Nini's Cafe on Bayswater? Love that place.

jberg 10:09 AM  

I didn’t think this was so bad. I loved WHOLE HOG and the idea that you would go to a SHOW and come home wearing a HAIR SHIRT. But I’ll agree that it didn’t come up to the level I’d expect from Stella Zawistowski.

I ran through NO fat, lO caL, and lO OIL before I got it right, but that was a plus, not a minus. As for the NORNs, I was surprised most hadn’t heard of them, but I grew up in a quasi-Norwegian milieu, so my perception may be warped. Anyway, NORNs are not goddesses—see the passage Rex quotes at the top.

So I finished with PLUNK/WRUNG, which I regard as correct. I solve in the printed paper, and did not get an error warning, so that’s final. PLUNK and PLINK could both be correct, but PLONK, as noted, is bad wine, a la Old Thames Embankment.

But TBF, if I tell you to head. Orth from Boston to get to NYC, and you reply that I am all wet, you are saying that I am WRONG.

Nancy 10:11 AM  

Occasionally I come to the blog and feel I'm living in an alternate universe. I expected everyone to like/love the puzzle, but a quick skim of the comments (I'll read them more thoroughly in a bit) shows that almost everyone seems to have disliked it intensely. Big surprise here.

I'm going to go back now and try and solve @Lewis's own themer challenge. Without crosses, don't know if I'll be able to. I'm not especially good on "years" of musicals.

EdFromHackensack 10:15 AM  

I've plenty of old pianos. Not one created a PLONK

Sir Hillary 10:25 AM  

I can't stand when @Rex offers up alternative (but not superior) theme answers, as if the fact that he can do so somehow proves a theme's weakness. One the contrary, I love when other theme answers are possible, because then we get things like the gem of a list provided by @Lewis. Creativity is fun!

That said, this theme is weak -- simply because it is boring. ANNIEHALL is the only themer that made me chuckle; the rest just lay there. And I agree with those who find the whole puzzle quite musty.

My biggest smile was NORN. My given name is Norman but I go by Norm, and for the longest time my little sister changed the final consonant sound and called me NORN. To this day, I sign EMAILs to her with that name.

RooMonster 10:32 AM  

Hey All !
The other day I said the puz didn't deserve the vitriol that Rex and y'all gave it. I second that today. Sure, it wasn't the best TuesPuz, but to me the theme was fine. Agree with the lots of junk fill, and especially agree about the center O. #PLINK/WRING for life!

I thought HAORSHIRT was slang for a man with a very hairy chest! I like that better.

Here at DMV because I need to, not cause I want to. Sign on doors say you need to make an appointment, but Nevada DMV has the cutoff date of 7/15 to defer your renewal, and mine is due 7/23. But, to make an appointment is about two months out. So I'll see what happens. DMV, ugh.

No F's

Masked and Anonymous 10:32 AM  

This TuesPuz put up a fight at our house. No major complaint here, since we like a challenge.

M&A is not really up on Broadway musicals, but had heard of these four, which seemed to make the theme reasonably fair. Not a very deep theme mcguffin, but, hey -- it's only a TuesPuz theme. fave themer: HAIRSHIRT.

What really put up the fight was the fillins.
Stuff that screamed "detour!" during the solvequest included:
* LORCA. Had no idea, but worked it out eventually, from the crossers.
* SHERLOCK. Clue threw m&e.
* PLONK/WRONG. Went with PLUNK/WRUNG. WRUNG again, M&A breath. Weren't real proud of that, but … when in doubt, go with "U". And ... PLONK? har
* EEOC/GPO. Guessed this one right, but lost valuable nanoseconds, while runnin the alphabet.
* NORN. News to m&e. Looks more like the Norse god of hospital staff shortage.
* ROCA. Nope. I snack on nuts a lot more than on candy.
* ABU. Should know this day-um monkey by heart by now. Shows up a lot in xwords. I always seem to sucker for APU, cuz it looks more like APE.

staff weeject pick: GPO. Has Patrick Berry Usage Immunity, I'd grant. Better clue: {Party of Trupm??}.

Thanx for the wild Tuesday ride, set to music, Ms. Zawistowski.

Masked & Anonymo1U

the outline of an anoa sweeps across the sky:

Mary McCarty 10:34 AM  

Re: pianos, even GRAND ones: A PLONK is a PLINK in the lower octaves.

Joaquin 10:51 AM  

What a coincidence! Last week I had my baby grand tuned as it was making a plink sound. I asked the tuner to correct the sound and, for only a small additional fee, he offered to make it PLONK. So I plunked down the extra dough and had him do that.

johnk 10:57 AM  

Very easy, athough I did get one WRUNG fill due to my PLUNKing piano.

Crimson Devil 10:59 AM  

Wheelhouse/strikezone: smooth sailing (which I usually don’t comment on) even with PLONK and NORN, via crosses. Some days are diamonds.

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

There is a definite musical sub-theme to this puzzle, with answers such
as: SHOW, PLONK, GRAND, TRIANGLE (the instrument) and the theme answers.

Also, got a nice laugh with Annie Hall. Too bad there could not have been more musical/movie combinations.

Overall, clever - but definitely tricky in spots.


Anonymous 11:09 AM  

PLONK, if memory serves, was/is used to describe the sound made by an out-of-tune key, or wrong note.

Newboy 11:11 AM  

WICKED GOOD ......for a Tuesday. Nicely repurposed show titles, but short stereotypical crosswordese entries rob some aha moment joy. EPA, EEOC (especially crossed with GPO), RBI and RIIS are pretty much auto correct entries on this iPad, but for less experienced solvers this might seem a stumper. I hope Rex is kind & y’all like Stella’s effort to lift us up this morning; going back to see🤒

What? 11:13 AM  

I agree With everything everybody said. Also I finished it and I thought it was fun. Probably because I finished it. Do you want to complain about something? Look at the headlines.

bauskern 11:15 AM  

wow, I thought M would have loved this. A female constructor, and a clue for Norse goddesses. Does it get any more woke than that? I loved it, but do agree that it was more difficult than your typical Tuesday, but so what? Unless you're into timing yourself, which I'm decidedly not. But where he says he doesn't know how long it took b/c he paused out of boredom, don't online puzzles have a timer function? Of course he should know how long it took. And if he's keeping (and bragging about) stats for his "typical" Tuesday solving time, shouldn't today get entered into the mix so the true average can be re-calculated? Maybe it's that people with big egos who brag about their fast times (unless they have a bad day, and then they just conveniently ignore their time) just push my buttons. We all have our quirks. Maybe I need to allow M his quirk that his supposed "average" is really the average of his fast times only and let it go at that.

Leslie 11:16 AM  

@Unknown 9:24 Exactly. This was fun to do --agree with Nancy that Annie Hall doesn't quite fit. No problem with any fill except possible NORN but that was gettable.

Smith 11:17 AM  

@Paul Leyden

And now it's the Penn Station LIRR terminal [sigh]

rosebud 11:20 AM  

As a bookkeeper who reconciles bank statements, I was amused to see 4D it may grow during compounding right next to 5D Abbr on a returned check...we are seeing lots of NSF these days, not much INTEREST...I loved learning what a NORN is, and the MLB Triple Crown, but i strongly disagree with PLONK. It should be either PLINK or PLUNK. Still worth a few Tuesday smiles when the rest of the news is so dreadful.

Bax'N'Nex 11:20 AM  

The more you read here, the more you will see that Mike ALWAYS has better theme answers because...they’re HIS.

***Spelling Bee Alert*** 11:31 AM  

As promised (threatened) and thankfully for the last time:

Words not accepted in YesterBee:

TOMHAT (The Cat in the Hat, anyone?? C'mon!)
HOOHA / HOOHAH (crass alternative to the "down dere" area)
MATHMOTH (It's mathematically gifted, but tragically, only briefly)
WHATAHO (I don't cleave, but I've heard it!)
MOTHHAT /MOTHAT (What a mathmoth wears in the sun in a futile attempt to prolong its all-too-brief life. Tsk.)

Hope this helps.


Uke Xensen 11:38 AM  

Filled this in so quickly I never had a chance to get annoyed at it as others did.

LGreenfield 11:42 AM  

I agree with Rex today except I’m not sure how you can use Alexa without owning an echo. The device with Alexa is called an Echo or an Echo dot. Maybe he thinks it is called an Alexa?

GHarris 11:49 AM  

Completely in accord with the comments of @Nancy. And just because Rex can come up with alternatives for the theme doesn’t lessen the puzzle’s cleverness. I didn’t find his alternatives anymore appealing than those provided by the constructor.

Swagomatic 11:53 AM  

I usually really like Stella's puzzles, but this one kind of fell flat. I had PLINK, rather than PLONK, which took me forever to find because I didn't read the clue. I saw the word WRING, and assumed it wasn't WRONG.

jb129 12:01 PM  

Was Annie Hall a musical?

Anonymous 12:02 PM  

FWIW, INTEREST (modulo, ARMs and seldom with respect to retail savers) is fixed. it doesn't 'compound' or increase, the principal does.

David 12:03 PM  

clink first for me... plonk? No. But I liked that grand was right below it.

When I was a kid we had RFD and GPO addresses; that was a long time ago, but I think you could get a box office address at the NYC GPO until fairly recently. Maybe you still can.

Pretty much agree with the negative assessments.

Anonymous 12:07 PM  

Rex never heard of NORN, so. . . it's a BAAAD clue. Rex never heard of General Post Office, so. . . it's a BAAAAD clue. Rex never heard of TELEX, so. . .it's a BAAAAAD clue. . . MEMO to NYT X-Word constructors - Please make sure Rex has heard of ALL your clues EVERY day before publishing more BAAAAAAAAD clues.

Frank Lynch 12:12 PM  

TELEX was no fun... I was under the impression that what the fax killed was Federal Express's Zap Mail.

BobL 12:17 PM  

I can hear a plonk as well as a plink and a plunk and I can make those sounds, too.

Z 12:21 PM  

It looks like this observation from earlier has been deleted by the author, so let me reiterate it - Rex’s list of alternative theme answers are not suggesting that his list is better, but rather that the theme conceit as presented is so thin as to make the possibilities nearly infinite.

egsforbreakfast 12:23 PM  

@LGreenfield 11:42 . You need to re-read Rex’s statement. He said “ I’ve used Alexa. I’ve never owned an Echo...”. The fact that he used a feature of a device that he didn’t own not only doesn’t obviate the clue, it’s not relevant to any discussion of the clue.

Anonymous 12:23 PM  

Hi all,
The Times lost another good one recently. Bari Weiss. It’s worth googling her resignation letter to A.G. Sulzberger.

Rug Crazy 12:30 PM  

I had WRING (as in wringing wet) and PLINK. Didn't think anything of it

Whatsername 12:33 PM  

This was challenging for me, definitely not my cup of tea as opposed to yesterday when I was in my element with the birds and the bees. I’m as far away from Broadway as I am from Central Park. I did get HAIRSHIRT and ANNIEHALL, but the others were mysteries to me. I bow to the New Yorkers here who probably breezed thru this one.

I read yesterday that AROD, JLo and other glitterati are mounting a bid to buy the NY Mets. And then we have the NFL team in D.C. changing their mascot and logo. Interesting times in the world of sports.

Ernonymous 12:35 PM  

I worked for the Italian Trade Commission 1985 to 1988, and Italians loved their Telex machines. We had a tiny little closet with the machine in it, and often I had to type the telex on this horrid machine. I cannot properly explain how difficult it was to type a telex on this primitive machine.
Then fax came to our office around 1987, and it sort of replaced the Telex, but not completely as its use was so entrenched for internatioral business communication. When I saw the clue, I immediately thought TELEX, because I lived it, but I was sure it was wrong.
Those early fax machines were no picnic either! I recall hundreds of pages jammed etc.
I had all the same problems as everyone else. I had GPA and then GPO. Then I thought my mistake must be in Hair Shirt, because I didn't see how Shirt was a souvenir or know the the phrase. I woke up at 2am and realized my mistake was at Wrung Wring Plunk Plink.

Paint Drinking Pete 12:48 PM  

Definitely a slow Tuesday for me, but got through most it without error, except for GPO/EEOC, and WRONG/PLONK, glad to know I wasn't only one. Also HAIRSHIRT? I've at least heard the other themers used as actual things, but have never heard of that... Early on wanted it to be HAIRSPRAY or something of that nature

Wanderlust 12:49 PM  

The app doesn’t tell you your record WORST score but this surely would have been it for a Tuesday. I was SEVEN minutes over my average time. Most of the time was in the West, around the ANNIEHALL SKIPPING cross. In retrospect those answers seem ok. But then it took forever to find that WRUNG and PLUNK were wrong. Like others, I thought all wet referred to wring, which I had first, and then wrung, whose tense seemed better for the clue. And if course plink plonk plunk all seemed equally valid. Yuck.

mathgent 1:00 PM  

@William of Ockham (10:09). I haven’t been to Nini’s. I checked it out on the internet. It looks like a cool funky place. The San Mateo county restaurants I usually go to are in the northern part of the county, like Daly City.

Teedmn 1:01 PM  

The story goes that someone was assigned a writing assignment that needed to be so many words long. The student wrote, "It was raining today. The rain came down, plink, plunk, plink, plunk,...." until the correct number of words were written. The student got the paper back with a big F and "Plink, plunk, you flunk" at the top. And that's what I did today. Considering that WRiNG or WRuNG can be associated with being wet even though those answers are WRONG for the clue had me shaking my head while shrugging and leaving it open. My mother used to say people were "all wet" but that didn't help me avoid the misdirection.

So a Tuesday DNF, a total WOE for GPO and totally whiffing on ECHO for far too long. And how many more times do I have to see a celeb clued as "voted sexiest man alive in 19XX" before PEOPLE comes to mind (guess what mag I've never read)?

But unlike Rex, I liked the theme and it made up for most of this so thanks, Stella, for a challenge on a Tuesday.

Unknown 1:30 PM  

Funny. That’s where I got stuck. GPO. I had GPA down. While I was so focused over on the WHOLEHOG area. I agree that today’s was hard annoying ish.

Unknown 1:31 PM  

I never figured it out.

Unknown 1:32 PM  

Thank you! Yeah wtf GPO

Unknown 1:32 PM  


ccredux 1:34 PM  

Plonk= to play a musical instrument unskillfully.

Unknown 1:34 PM  

GPA exactly what I thought.

Unknown 1:36 PM  

Good for you getting your miles in early. If I don’t go out early to run then it gets too busy. I understand.

Unknown 1:37 PM  

You know. They bought a shirt at a performance of Hair musical. It’s their souvenir.

Unknown 1:38 PM  

Who am I kidding. Not only did I not get GPO. I also didn’t get PLONK and WRONG. So meh for Tuesday.

Barbara S. 2:12 PM  

Dumb question interlude:
1) Is that a photo of Oliver Stone in Rex's review and what is it doing there?

2) What does IRR mean in 36A (Abbr. in a discount bin)?

JD 2:14 PM  

Anyone offended by Plonk? Anyone? Don't be shy. This is a sharing place. 😏

@LGreenfield, "You can download and install it on any Windows 10 PC, but only compatible devices will support Alexa wake word functionality."

Wake Word, there's a cool answer we may see someday.

@GleekforLife, Hair Shirt, sack cloth and ashes, these were the penance of old when people were reaaallly sorry for doing bad stuff.

@Teedman, I'd have given the kid an A and told him to go into marketing. But that's why I didn't go into teaching.

old timer 2:16 PM  

Incredibly slow 21 minutes though I did complete it (I only time Mondays and Tuesdays). PLONK is simply not an accurate clue. Pianos plink or maybe plunk, never PLONK, and WS could so easily have written the clue "Rumpole has been known to drink it" or "Cheap drink on Cheapside". And GPO is just inexcusable. The New York main post office hasn't been called that for decades, and maybe never was by New Yorkers. Now the GPO in Dublin was famous. The rebels blew that one up WICKED GOOD. Actually, they made their headquarters and blew up Nelson's statue, in front of it.

The themers were all pretty amusing, I thought. Best thing about the puzzle.

This is the first time @Lewis has not had glowing praise for a puzzle, or so it seems to me. And what has happened to our dear Muse?

Z 2:19 PM  

I can’t believe all you heathens don’t have a HAIR SHIRT. Self-Flagellation for all of you.

Z 2:23 PM  

@Barbara S - IRRegular and Oliver Stone’s picture is in the write-up for the same reason ANNIE HALL is in the puzzle.

Anonymous 2:29 PM  

Barbara S: IRR = irregular

No idea about your other question

Anonymous 2:35 PM  

I must be old. I still call the Farley Building the GPO. I don't know how many decades behind the times I am. But I've never been in Dublin.

It is the NEW YORK Times, after all.

William of Ockham 2:49 PM  

For whoever asked is ANNIE HALL a Musical?

NO but Annie plays in one.

DanGolder 2:55 PM  

@goldbug a Right Triangle is definitely a thing -- the only way I have heard it called. That was probably the high point of this puzzle for me.

Barbara S. 3:12 PM  

@Z 2:23 p.m.
RE: Dumb question #1: Aah, right. As in "Object thrown at the stage by a disgruntled (and possibly deranged) audience member during a performance of a 1963 Broadway musical"? Answer: OLIVERSTONE

@Z 2:23 p.m. and Anonymous 2:29 p.m.
RE: Dumb question #2: Thanks. I'd tried to look it up and got as far as "Internal Rate of Return," which just didn't seem quite right.

RPCV Cameroon 3:37 PM  

Government Printing Office is now officially called Government Publishing Office (since so much of what they do is not printed but published digitally)

Adam 3:50 PM  

Well. My first thought for 38A was PLONK, but I waited to get some crosses to confirm. I had Jennifer GRAY, but knew it could have been an E.

I was surprised that @Rex didn't complain about the theme more. ANNIE HALL is a movie; it's not a thing or a common phrase. RENT FREEZE and HAIR SHIRT are noun phrases—they are things. WICKED GOOD is an adjectival phrase—it itself is not a thing itself but it describes a thing, esp. if you're from New England (that's a WICKED GOOD HAIR SHIRT, or ANNIE HALL was a WICKED GOOD movie). And ANNIE HALL is a movie, not an object. And having not one, not two, but three government agency initialisms (EPA, EEOC, GPO) is ridiculous.


A Moderator 3:54 PM  


If you want your posts to go through, avoid spoilers (i.e. specifics about the last word you entered).

TTrimble 4:00 PM  

---[SB Stuff]]---

@Anonymous 3:42 PM. It is my understanding that SB solvers frequently make reference to the data on the front page of nytbee for that day, including numbers of letters in words. I am certain I can dig up instances of this coming from others besides myself.

And for some reason, my last post announcing QB was deleted, again (this post had no mention whatsoever of word length). Announcements of QB are common practice among SB solvers. Moderators, I ask that you please not delete this comment, as I'd like to understand how I'm going outside the customary norms and it's hard to see this if I no longer have access to what I wrote.

TTrimble 4:01 PM  

Also, dear Moderator, my user name is TTrimble. Not TTrible.

A Moderator 4:29 PM  


Yes, SB solvers can choose to go to nybee (where they can also get a lot of different spoilers, including the day's accepted word list). However, as a courtesy to those SB solvers who choose not to, please avoid including spoilers in your posts.

Also, sorry for misspelling your name.

Brenton 4:37 PM  

Hair shirts were worn by religious people as a discomfort to remind them of life's tribulations. And so it became a stand-in for self-punishment. REM has a song called Hairshirt on their classic album Green.

Brenton 4:40 PM  

A musical name included in a common phrase is unifying enough for me for a Tuesday theme.

Brenton 4:43 PM  

I had LABEL for a while, really slowed me down. Like, you'd ask for the label of the dressing or something to see how much sugar was in it.

TTrimble 4:44 PM  

Dear Moderator,

Okay, thanks for engaging. I'll comply, but please be aware that other SB solvers include those types of "spoilers" in their comments (these do not included accepted words for that day). It's my habit to watch for community norms and follow them myself, which is what I did.

Brenton 4:47 PM  

Annie is the musical in that answer.

Eric 5:01 PM  

First comment ever after a long time reading this blog, but I feel compelled. This was the worst puzzle I've ever done. If more puzzles were like this one, I wouldn't bother doing them at all.

PLONK x WRONG is hard for a Tuesday but not unfair, because I think All Wet = WRONG was solvable.

LORCA x CREE, GPO x EEOC don't belong in any puzzle any day of the week. It's not that they're hard; it's that they suck. Add in a bunch of other nonsense fill and who cares about WHOLE HOG OR WICKED GOOD? (which I think are otherwise pretty great)

If your good answers are boxing you into having RIIS, ROCA, TELEX, etc in your puzzle, start over. How on Earth did this get through?

Z 5:07 PM  

REM’s HAIRSHIRT, which is apparently a favorite live performance cover of Glen Hansard. The BNL and REM tunes are both in my collection. Swell Season not yet.

syracusesolver 5:14 PM  

Put me with the good folks who had PLiNK and WRiNG but otherwise no problems. I have to love a puzzle that brings to mind wonderful musicals with their show-stopping numbers. I’ve been humming all day.

I’ve donated back a slew of tickets to performing arts events since March. I can’t wait for the day when I can once again be part of a live audience.

It was nice to be reminded of the Government Printing Office even though it wasn’t in thr puzzle. Growing up I ordered their free publications regularly. I especially remember a handsome edition of the presidential inaugural addresses, Washington to Truman. I found it thoroughly engrossing.

Can't we all just get along? 5:49 PM  

I don't remember ever seeing someone be combative with a moderator. See @TTrimble.

Jade from Bed Stuy 5:59 PM  

DNF on plonk/wrong too. Oh well. I cheated so as far as the app knows my streak is alive. But conscience and all that...BTW any of my fellow countrymen see this ? ...........Headline: Black Leaders Call on NYPD to Bring Back Anti-Crime Unit as Shootings Spike.........From the article : Leaders in the black community are calling on the New York Police Department to bring back the plainclothes Anti-Crime Unit that was eliminated last month as shootings and murders spike across the city. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, one of the African-American voices calling for action on gun violence, criticized the police force’s decision to completely disband the unit. He deplored the recent deadly shooting of a one-year-old, one of the victims of New York City’s recent spike in gun violence........Meanwhile white progressives sit in their ivory towers and decry the police. Thanks Mayor De Blasio.

Unknown 6:06 PM  

Same here. Benefit to doing the puzzle on paper—it doesn’t scold me when I get a letter wrong.

ChuckD 6:32 PM  

@Z - my wife fell in love with Once and Hansard. I knew him slightly from the Frames - thinking one day the Irish would take over and he would be the new Mike Scott but he’s just not like that. The REM cut is outstanding.

TTrimble 6:43 PM  


Well, I'm not interested in arguing with spectators about this, but I think "combative" is overly strong. Some of the history has been erased, making it tricky for outsiders to judge, but in brief, comments of mine which were innocent were removed (e.g., an announcement of QB without anything else that could be construed as problematic). When such things happen, I think it's okay to seek clarity. My last comment indicates a willingness to comply, and that should be the end of the matter. (Is it?)

The mod misspelled my name at least twice (one an occasion which was subsequently erased), and I also think it's okay to correct that. I'll cede that the "dear" was unnecessary, but I was getting a little frustrated by how some of my comments were being treated, and it slipped out. Hopefully it's water under the bridge. I'll acknowledge that it's not easy being a mod; from what I can tell, they usually get things right. But we're all humans here.

TTrimble 6:55 PM  


Once is a simple and beautiful story, compellingly told. Strangely, it got an R rating, I think because of maybe as few as three or four four-letter words (spoken not in anger, but humorously). I felt completely at ease letting my young son watch it with me when it was running on HBO, some years back. I'll have to listen to that REM cut.

A Waterboy 6:56 PM  

@ChuckD Mike Scott is Scottish but I get your point.

Monty Boy 7:02 PM  

I liked this one a lot. It came in Medium for me. My reaction is like @Nancy 10:01. But then, I'm oldish (76) and have been in an office that had a Telex. Noisy machine. I didn't know about PLONK, but I was sure of "All wet" being wrong - maybe the age thing at work. I put PLONK in my file of things I learned today, one of which is that it is a cheap wine.

Other comments:
Almond roca is a delight. My mother-in-law introduced it to me and now wife makes is every Christmas. As far as I know, it's not a brand name as some have intimated, but just a recipe.

Regarding yesterday's Tate cookies: I bought some and they are good, but not as good as the wife's. She uses my Mom's recipe and they are heavenly - not crisp.

Pdxrains 7:08 PM  

I gotta agree. Just absolutely brutal for no reason. And on a Tuesday to boot! Oof

Photomatte 7:52 PM  

I'll join the others who are harping on the idiocy of this puzzle. My beef was with 28D ("All wet"). The alleged answer is "wrong," which is ironic since that answer seems so wrong to me. Has anyone ever heard anyone using the term 'all wet' when they mean 'wrong?' Me either.

old timer 7:53 PM  

Welcome to the commentariat, @Eric! Now you have to put on your HAIR SHIRT. Federico Garcia LORCA is the best poet of the 20th Century, in any language. Or at least the best European poet of his era (Pablo Neruda, a Chilean, may be even better). Certainly crossworthy, especially because Franco folks murdered him.

CREE are maybe the best known of the First Nations up in Canada. I learned about them because the great folk singer Buffy Ste Marie is one of them.

RIIS was pretty famous in his day. A muckraker of note. Almond Roca was ubiquitous on the West Coast. Made by Peter Paul, who also made Mountain Bars. Still do it seems.

Pamela 7:58 PM  

You’ve all been very busy while I was out today. Very entertaining, making a great read for me over dinner. I really have nothing to add, except that in my world tinny pianos also can sound tinkly, which didn’t fit. Pizzicato can be a plink or plunk, though really a pluck, but that’s not played on a piano. Plonk is still a drink. As many of you have already said, more or less, just ask Rumpole.

SB Alert!

@TTrimble- You seemed respectful enough to me. And I was just as anxious for clarification as you were. I hope I got the message straight!
Yesterday was very disturbing, talking about rule breaking. That one long word was absolutely a proper noun. I googled, and found no other entries beyond the person’s name. And how is WOOHOO a word? It’s not in the on line Scrabble dictionary. That was my final hit, when I was just playing around with letters almost at random, and I was completely shocked when the bee came up.

Today’s another story. I’m stuck again at Genius with 3 words to go, and I don’t even have the pangram. Yuck.

SB over.

Barbara S. 8:26 PM  

@TTrimble ***SPELLING BEE***
FWIW, I thought you handled the mods' objections well, first seeking clarification and then promising to comply. I guess we SB posters all need to be vigilant about the spoiler issue, especially if, as you say, the rest of us have posted details like the ones you got dinged for today.

Congrats on getting QB! That's multiple days in a row for you, I think. I'm still one word away but I haven't given up (although you know I'm getting desperate when I show the puzzle to my husband -- brilliant man, but can't spell his way out of a paper bag).

TTrimble 8:36 PM  


Thanks; appreciate the confirmation about tone. Sometimes in these situations, some lines from Burns recur to me:

O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!

The poem (To a Louse) is kind of funny, but I see these lines particularly as being of broad application...

Sorry, but yes I've heard of it. Usually in the phrase, "you're all wet!" It definitely has an old-fashioned ring (wring?) to it.

chefwen 8:46 PM  

@Monty Boy 7:01 - Almond Roca most certainly is a Brand, manufactured by Brown and Haley. Available year round and very popular around the winter holiday season.

jaymar 9:10 PM  

Awful for a Tuesday poor definitions. Outdated information and mix of shows and movies Yuckie

Anonymous 9:11 PM  

No shit Sherlock

Barbara S. 9:25 PM  

Hah! Pulled it off...sans Mr. S's help. Yay!

TTrimble 9:39 PM  

@Barbara S.

Yay! Good on ya. We'll have a little post mortem tomorrow. I did dig some of the words from today. I'm not sure I quite grasp how the word "crunch" is sometimes applied (approvingly) in reference to crosswords, but I'm guessing "crunchy" might be an apt adjective for some of today's answers? To be savored, with teeth and tongue.

jae 10:32 PM  

@SBers - just hit QB and @TTrimble “chrunchy” is definitely apt.

albatross shell 10:44 PM  

Been enjoying you folks all day, just no chance to write.

Nightmare Tuesday in solving for me, in time and sweat, but I enjoyed the puzzle and the theme.

RENT FREEZE clued as the play RENT being performed as temperature drops rapidly below freezing, instead of an order against raising rents.

HAIR SHIRT clued as a souvenir Tee from a performance of HAIR, instead of medieval self torture religious device.

ANNIE HALL clued as a large room made or at least named for performances of the play ANNIE, instead of famous Woody Allen movie.

WICKED GOOD clued as a one-word review of the play WICKED, instead of a slang expression with an an antonym is used as an intensifier.

Sorry to be so long-winded and obvious, but many here do not seem to understand this. Just like yesterday go to the bank and cleaning gutters. People kept demanding sense out of clearly nonsensical clues that produce intentionally sensible unrelated answers. It is a parallel situation of revealer clues produce an answer that that is also a hint about the theme answers. Get it together. Serious rant over.

New rant. This was a terrible puzzle. Across the top:


A blatant homage to the NRA.

Down the center:


A blatant appeal to white racists.


Suggestion of homosexual slur of both Canadian first people and Yankee lust?


A PUT down of environmentalists.


A PUT down of this very blog.


A put down of black culture.

Miscellaneous notes.

I got WRONG right away. Wring and wrung is not all wet. Not even close. They are verbs. and are de-wetting actions.

Plain plank plonk. M-W definition of PLONK: Plonk definition is - to pluck or hit so as to produce a quick, hollow, metallic, or harsh sound.

NO OIL is a perfectly fine 5 letter 2 word answer. It just looks strange. So what.

Also so what if the theme is easy to make 100 clues for. Good. Somebody can make another one in 10 years. Maybe it will be even better.

RIIS tough. Maybe I'll get it quicker some Saturday.

Hail and farewell.

thefogman 10:09 AM  

Guessed wrong at the GPO/EEOC crossing and that ruined it for me. Acronyms should be banned in the NY Times crossword.

spacecraft 10:50 AM  

The thing I don't get is: OFC expends tons of energy trying to get m/f equality in getting puzzles published--then trashes one from a very talented woman. Yes, there were some sore spots, but this was a way better effort than he says.

Right out of the gate, I confidently wrote in ADMIT for "Grant entry to." Wouldn't you? DIDN'T you? Sure you did. 28 down! But this was just the beginning of a fun, quirky clue set more at home a little later in the week. SHERLOCK as "genius" is actually an insult, a fact not made clear in the clue. After stating the obvious, someone says, "No s**t, SHERLOCK!"

HAIRSHIRT must be one of those fashion fads I missed. As I recall, they didn't wear shirts--or ANYTHING--in "HAIR."

I got WHOLEHOG and TRIANGLE right away; don't understand OFC's trouble with the latter. DOD Jennifer GREY sits along the edge of the grid, but not in the corner. Nobody puts Baby in the corner.

I think it's a fine puzzle, and it did what few Tuesday puzzles do: it made me think. More like this--sans the GPO/EEOC thing--please. Birdie.

Burma Shave 11:36 AM  


What LEAH might CARE to SHOW
will COAX INTEREST from manhood,
she’s ATTRACTive, YOUANDI know,
and her LIPS are WICKEDGOOD.


rondo 12:15 PM  

No write-overs today, probably because I started with the downs and yeah baby Chris EVERT kept me from putting in the WRONG 1a. Cabin next door, summer 1982; ahh LEAH!
Not WICKEDGOOD, but I can’t RANT as much as OFL, and NORN is pretty obscure, even for a one-time Scandinavian Area Studies minor like me.

leftcoaster 3:05 PM  

Are Monday and Tuesday toughening up or am I just dimming out?

Maybe a bit of both. Anyhow, got the four Broadway musicals. Nothing WRONG with that or the rest of the puzzle.

Wouldn't claim to be a SHERLOCK, but feel bright enough to finish this one.

wcutler 3:43 PM  

@Photomatte 7:52 PM
"Has anyone ever heard anyone using the term 'all wet' when they mean 'wrong?'"
Yes, I grew up outside Philadelphia using that term to mean exactly that; I have a brother, and we used it on each all the time.

My favourite answer was WICKED GOOD, followed by WHOLE HOG. I liked this puzzle tons better than ones where the theme is just that one letter changes from one theme answer to the next. And I liked seeing GRAND piano after the disparaging description of the one in the previous row. It takes all kinds of pianos, and people can do a WICKED GOOD job playing either one.

Diana, LIW 5:22 PM  


Lady Di

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